Cat’s Paw in Employment Law

A theory is gaining ground in employment law, challenging employers defense against claims of discrimination and retaliation. In many legal cases, a common defense against claims of retaliation and harassment is to show that the harasser and the person carrying out the purported retaliatory act were separate an unrelated.

However, the “Cats Paw” theory posits that in many of these cases, the individual carrying out the action is under the influence or control of the harasser or instigator of the employees claims. While it is often hard to establish this link, this theory is seeing an uptick in usage, as more workers find themselves retaliated against by their employers. This is useful for employees who have been subjected an unlawful employment action or in retaliation, but the action was carried out by a different individual.