(CN) – The Supreme Court added four new cases to its docket this week, including one addressing the so-called “cat’s paw” theory of liability for workplace discrimination. The theory holds an employer liable when a biased worker influences the company to demote or fire another employee.
The term “cat’s paw” comes from 17th century French poet Jean de La Fontaine, who wrote a fable about a monkey who persuades a cat to pull chestnuts from a fire, causing the cat to burn his paw.
The case, Staub v. Proctor Hospital, was filed by an Illinois man who claims he was fired for serving in the Army Reserves. Vincent Staub claims a superior with strong anti-military beliefs influenced the hospital to fire him.
The high court granted review to three other cases: Costco Wholesale Corp. v. Omega S.A., 08-1423 (copyright); Random v. MBNA America Bank, 09-907 (bankruptcy); and U.S. v. Tohono O’odham Nation, 09-846 (jurisdiction).