Virginia Supreme Court Adopts Supervisor Liability Cause of Action

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In an extension of wrongful discharge liability, the Virginia Supreme Court recently concluded in the recent majority decision in VanBuren v. Grubb that supervisors could be sued in tort for their involvement in a wrongful discharge.

The majority court rejected the minority position that only an employer has the ability to hire or fire employees, and focused on the underlying motivations of the supervisor to determine actionability against him or her. Proponents argue the decision allows a plaintiff to make claim against the actual wrongdoer; opponents argue the decision provides an unfair club to plaintiffs open to potential abuse.

Regardless of one’s views, it is an important decision for anyone in a supervisory capacity to consider in carrying out their supervisory duties.

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