Staub v. Proctor Hosp., 562 U.S. ___, 131 S. Ct. 1186 (2011)

Vincent Staub, a former angiography technician for Proctor Hospital, was a member of the United States Army Reserve. Staub alleged that his employment was terminated in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”) because his supervisor (Janice Mulally) and her supervisor (Michael Korenchuk) were hostile to Staub’s military obligations (e.g., Staub’s absence from work to attend monthly drill and training sessions). Mulally complained that “everyone else [had] to bend over backwards to cover [Staub’s] schedule for the Reserves,” and Korenchuk referred to Staub’s military obligations as “a bunch of smoking and joking and a waste of taxpayers’ money.” Staub was issued a Corrective Action disciplinary warning for purportedly failing to stay in his work area when he was not working with a patient, and his employment was eventually terminated by Linda Buck (the vice president of human resources) based on Staub’s ignoring the directive in the Corrective Action. Although Staub convinced a jury that he was terminated in violation of the statute, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that an employer is not liable for the anti-military animus of a supervisor who was not charged with making the ultimate employment decision, and in this case, Buck had that responsibility. The United States Supreme Court disagreed and reversed the Seventh Circuit, holding that “if a supervisor performs an act motivated by anti-military animus that is intended by the supervisor to cause an adverse employment action, and if that act is a proximate cause of the ultimate employment action, then the employer is liable under USERRA.”