Dean Sperino Quoted in Bloomberg Law

Sandra Sperino, associate dean and Elwood L. Thomas Endowed Professor of Law, was quoted in Bloomberg Law about oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court on a work discrimination case.

Narrowing the issue leaves out biased employer decisions on topics like when and where employees work, which job functions they’re required to perform, and discipline that doesn’t immediately result in docked pay or other serious consequences, said Sandra Sperino, a discrimination law professor at the University of Missouri.

But it also eliminates the need for the justices to define what’s the most minimal conduct that would cross the threshold of being actionable under Title VII, saving them from addressing the “parade of horribles” that might follow having no harm requirement for any discriminatory workplace decision, she said.

“You can imagine, for example, a case when a supervisor didn’t say happy birthday because of a worker’s protected trait,” Sperino said. “The court changed the question presented to avoid that de minimis question.”

Still, lower courts would likely reason by analogy that a broader set of employment actions would be covered when there’s no material injury if the Supreme Court makes clear that Title VII doesn’t impose an elevated harm mandate for biased transfers, she said.

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