Washington, D.C. — Today, with a 5-4 decision on Vance v. Ball State University, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority made it significantly easier for bosses to racially or sexually harass their employees without being held accountable. In a second case, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, the same five conservative justices gave employers a freer hand to retaliate against victims of discrimination who report that they have suffered discrimination. In response to the Court’s decision to limit the recourse of employees who have been harassed by supervisors, the Center for American Progress’s Tom Perriello issued the following statement:
In a decision eerily reminiscent of the Lilly Ledbetter case from just a few years ago, the Roberts Court has doubled down on a legacy of putting corporate interests ahead of the individual rights of consumers and employees. From Citizens United to Vance v. Ball State University, the Roberts Court has taken unprecedented steps to protect corporate power in both the economic and political space while limiting the rights of citizens to challenge their abuses. Indeed, the Roberts Court has sided with the Chamber of Commerce in more than two-thirds of cases, and that figure no doubt will be higher after this term is completed.
The members of the Roberts majority seem much more comfortable siding with big corporate interests rather than sick patients, employees who have suffered harassment, or consumers gouged by tricks and traps. This is not a division between conservative and liberal jurisprudence, in the traditional sense, but between a view of the Constitution centered on protecting individuals or institutions. Our courts have long been the last resort for the most vulnerable in our society against the powerful, but this Supreme Court has used yet another term to make it harder for everyday Americans to exercise their basic rights against the most powerful institutions in the country.
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