The court has options for dealing with the Vance case and a decision is not expected before spring.
Several justices suggested throwing the case back to the lower courts to develop more fully who actually had a supervisory role at the Indiana university's food services division. Others were wary of adopting a broad binding rule, when such workplace disputes are all fact-specific and often do not follow traditional worker-employer roles.
The National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are supporting the university. They suggest the changing economy will put companies at risk when determining managerial duties.
"This is consistent with workplaces across America today, where jobs are less hierarchical, more collaborative, and so where you have got more senior employees by virtue of their experience or job title, just a paper title, are in a broad sense team leaders of the like in the workplace," said Gregory Garre, representing the university. "That doesn't mean they are supervisors in any traditional sense."
The AARP and National Partnership for Women & Families are backing Vance. Those groups worry restricting who qualifies as a supervisor would allow business to give hiring and firing power to as few people as possible, to limit liability. They said that would leave the law "toothless."
The case is Vance v. Ball State University (11-556).