It has long been the rule in the Second Circuit, that individual supervisors do not have liability under Title VII claims, based on the case of Tomka v. Seiler Corp.
But can supervisors be sued individually under the ADA for retaliation? The Second Circuit last week held that individual supervisors may not be held liable under the ADA as well.
In Spiegel v. Schumann (download here), the Court found that the ADA’s provisions are borrowed directly from Title VII’s provisions. Therefore, the court found that these provisions cannot provide for individual liability.
This conclusion is arguably contrary to a literal reading of § 12203(a), where the phrase “[n]o person shall” suggests the possibility of individual liability. Because we apply the remedies provided in Title VII to the antiretaliation provision of the ADA, however, § 12203 presents that “rare case” in which “a broader consideration of” the ADA, in light of the remedial provisions of Title VII, “indicates that this interpretation of the statutory language does not comport with Congress’[s] clearly expressed intent.”
This case isn’t that much of a surprise (though the issue had been pending at the Second Circuit for years). It shouldn’t change much for employers. They still need to ensure that supervisors abide by the ADA; it just means that if there is a violation — the company, not the individual supervisors — will be on the hook.