Executives may be covered by federal employment law

Companies in Tennessee and around the country with 15 or more workers must abide by the requirements of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However, there has been legal confusion regarding whether senior executives should be classed as employers or workers. While workers are protected by Title VII of the landmark federal law, employers are not. The issue was addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 2003 case involving a claim made under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The test the justices used to decide the matter is now generally followed by courts when deciding federal workplace discrimination cases.

The justices were primarily concerned with how much control the complainant in the case had over her compensation and working conditions, and they turned to guidelines provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for guidance. Factors that should be considered according to the EEOC include hiring and firing authorization, supervision levels, corporate hierarchies, profit-sharing and employment contracts or other work-related documentation. The EEOC says that the amount of influence an individual has within a company should also be taken into consideration.

The Supreme Court ruled that judges should view these factors as a whole rather than focusing on one aspect of an employment situation. The justices pointed out that a lofty title alone is not enough to turn an employee into an employer. While the lines separating workers from employers may sometimes be clear in rigidly structured corporations, they can be vague and undefined in partnership arrangements.

Attorneys with a background in workplace discrimination cases may be able to study the working situations of their clients to predict how their cases will be interpreted by the courts. Lawyers could also urge employers to avoid legal costs, negative publicity and possible civil sanctions by settling these claims discretely and quickly.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Free Consultation

Get Started With Your Free, No-Obligation Consultation

Let us be clear when we say "you pay us nothing unless we win." Your relationship with our law firm begins with a free consultation. You meet directly with one of our experienced lawyers. When you become our client, we never ask you to open your checkbook. We work on a contingency-fee basis, which means our fee only comes from the proceeds from a successful verdict or settlement.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

McCune Zenner Happell, PLLC The Parklane Building, 5200 Maryland Way Suite 120 Brentwood, TN 37027 Phone: 615-953-8337 Phone: 615-425-3476 Fax: 615-251-6958 Brentwood Law Office Map

  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers
  • The Best Lawyers in America
  • Best Lawyers Best Law Firms U S News
  • Nation's Premier NAFBA Top Ten Ranking 2014