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A loss for labor

The U.S. Supreme Court handed Ball State University a victory last month in a discrimination case filed by an employee, but the loss belongs to all low-level workers.

Maetta Vance, a black employee in the university’s catering department, alleged that she was physically and racially harassed by Saundra Davis, a catering specialist. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer can be found negligent in responding to complaints of harassment if the acts are committed by a supervisor.

The 5-4 majority opinion, however, draws a narrow picture of a supervisor, essentially defining it as someone with the ability to hire and fire. Davis had the authority to assign tasks to Vance and to determine her schedule.

Pat Garafalo of U.S. News & World Report calls the decision “the latest instance in which Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s conservatives have pledged fealty to business interests, to the detriment of American workers.”

At, Joanna L. Grossman writes that “It is already extremely difficult for a victim of harassment to prevail in a Title VII lawsuit. The majority’s ruling in Vance has made it that much more difficult.”

Congress, of course, has the authority to fix the problem. The law should acknowledge that any employee with authority over another can make working conditions unbearable.

Road to higher rating

Hoosiers anxious to see a study comparing states that doesn’t put Indiana at the bottom of the pack should be pleased with a recent study from the Reason Foundation.

The foundation, known for its libertarian leanings, ranked Indiana’s state highway system as 22nd in the nation. This is a welcome assessment considering the abundant criticism circulating about the country’s crumbling infrastructure. It’s also an improvement for the state, which ranked 23rd last year.

The Annual Highway Report found Indiana ranks No. 1 for rural interstate pavement conditions, 10th for its fatality rate, 10th for urban interstate congestion, 21st for bridge conditions and 28th for urban interstate pavement condition.

Indiana has the 23rd largest highway system in the country with 11,175 miles. It also spends 54 percent more than the national average per mile of road.

One issue Hoosiers should give closer scrutiny: Indiana’s highway administrative costs come in at three times the national average.

But the study’s authors attribute that to accounting issues from the lease of the Indiana Toll Road.