The Seventh Circuit held that the employee was entitled to new trial in her Title VII lawsuit. The suit alleged that her employer had discriminated against her because of her sex and terminated her in retaliation for making complaints of discrimination.
Defendant employed plaintiff as a security supervisor. After the employee complained that her supervisor, made sexually offensive remarks and favored males, her supervisor gave her negative evaluations and accused her of misconduct, including theft. Employer transferred her to a non-supervisory position at a distant location. Supervisor told her to turn in keys and empty her locker. Believing that she had been fired, she did not return.
In the underlying action, the jury rejected the employer's claim that the employee had not been terminated. However, the District Court the confused the jury by submitting improper instructions that required jury to find that plaintiff's supervisor was sole decision-maker in order to impose liability on defendant.
The Seventh Circuit reversed, calling the "cat's paw" theory of liability "a dreadful muddle." The District Court, by injecting “sole decision-maker” into deliberations created confusion, as the Supervisor was not a cat’s paw; "he was the monkey."