Posner Clarifies Cat’s Paw Liability
Judge Posner took the opportunity in an employment discrimination case to clarify the meaning and purpose of Cat’s Paw Liability. Posner explained that the term comes from the tale of a monkey enlisting a weak-minded cat to fetch roasting chestnuts from a fire, which caused the cat to burn its paw. He analogized the cat to an employer being induced to terminate someone by an employee (the monkey) with a discriminatory purpose. The example would be a person being fired because the employer was told and believed that an employee had stolen, when in fact discrimination was the purpose. The employer is liable in these situations, regardless of lack of knowledge because discrimination was a motivating factor.
Cook v. IPC Int’l Corp., No. 11-2502 (7th Cir. Mar. 8, 2012).