Businesses of all types and sizes throughout the United States, Mexico and beyond bring their disputes to Gardere's litigation team and receive practical, responsive, boutique-style attention in return. Our clients have access to the firepower and value of a well-known and highly-regarded Firm's capabilities and interdisciplinary strengths.
Gardere has a national and international energy practice formed around our Energy Industry Team, which is a multidisciplinary group of approximately 60 attorneys with diverse backgrounds, experience and skills specific to the energy industry. Our team includes attorneys who have served as in-house counsel for major energy companies, providing a depth of insight into our clients' needs, issues and concerns. We understand and regularly practice in virtually every sector of the energy, and we represent a wide variety of industry participants from multinational corporations to individuals.
From our offices in the United States and Mexico, our International Practice helps clients operate in today’s global economy. We have more than 30 professionals operating as a boutique within an Am Law 200 law firm and are able to provide focused service with the resources of a large firm. We understand that clients who are engaged in the global marketplace need lawyers who can operate seamlessly across multiple jurisdictions. Our international experts are multi-lingual, are culturally fluent and intimately familiar with various legal systems across the world, especially those in Latin America. Whether you need help with commercial transactions, regulatory matters, customs and import regulations, immigration matters, M&A and joint ventures, international disputes, or international tax planning, Gardere’s international team is here to assist you.
We represent domestic and foreign private funds in all aspects of fund formation, fund operations, platform and add-on acquisitions, and portfolio company operations. Our team has a reputation for being the go-to-lawyers for private equity funds, hedge funds, venture capital funds and family offices. We are known for our vast deal experience, the efficient way we staff and manage our work, and the way we maintain our relationships. We get deals done with sophisticated, strategic, and practical advice tailored to the needs of our clients.
*Not admitted to practice law.
In Staub v. Proctor Hospital, the Supreme Court ruled that an employer may be held liable for employment discrimination based on the conduct of an employee who influenced – but did not make – the ultimate employment decision. Commonly called the “cat’s paw” theory of liability, the Supreme Court’s decision means an employer may be liable for discrimination when an independent decision maker, such as a human resources manager, relies upon the biased comments or reviews of another, such as a shift supervisor, in making an adverse employment decision. Previously, many courts had found that as long as the decision maker did not rely solely on the biased supervisor’s account of the employee’s performance or conduct, the employer could not be held liable for discrimination. The holding in Staub clarifies that the acts of a biased mid-level supervisor can be sufficient to establish liability.
Staub was a member of the United States Army Reserve and was required to miss work to attend military training exercises. His direct supervisors were openly hostile to his military service, and wrote him up for minor, or in some cases fabricated, infractions. After one such write up, Staub was placed on probation for allegedly leaving his work area without authorization. Staub was subsequently written up again for the same infraction, and his direct supervisors recommended his termination. The hospital’s human resources manager reviewed the file, accepted the recommendation and terminated Staub’s employment.
The Supreme Court found the hospital liable for discriminating against Staub because of his military service, which is prohibited by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”). Noting USERRA is very similar to Title VII, the Supreme Court ruled that when an independent decision maker relies on the biased report of a mid-level supervisor, “the employer is at fault because one of its agents committed an action based on discriminatory animus that was intended to cause, and did in fact cause, an adverse employment decision.”
The practical impact of this ruling is that employers cannot defend against claims of discrimination by proving that an independent decision maker – who is not accused of bias – conducted an independent investigation or review of the file in reaching an adverse employment decision. If the decision maker relies on the fact finding of the biased supervisor, the company as a whole can be liable for discrimination. Employers can avoid this result by training supervisors at all levels on the legal prohibitions against discrimination to ensure that reviews or disciplinary actions are not based on bias or animus, and by training human resources professionals to spot red flags when reviewing a termination recommendation, and conducing a truly independent investigation into the employee’s performance rather than relying on a supervisor’s recommendation.
Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court on March 1, 2011. Justice Alito filed a concurrence, which was joined by Justice Thomas. Justice Kagan did not take part.
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