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Most people do not need an employment attorney to tell them that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees based on, among other things, one’s race, gender or religious affiliation.  Most people, however, do not know that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits employers for retaliating against their employees for filing complaints regarding or engaging in acts which oppose racial and/or religious discrimination. Retaliatory discrimination is not a new concept by any means, but the standard by which an employer’s retaliatory action is measured will soon be the topic of conversation for the United States Supreme Court.

The issue which has been certified for review by the Supreme Court is: Whether the retaliation provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and similarly worded statutes require a plaintiff to prove but-for causation (i.e., that an employer would not have taken an adverse employment action but for an improper motive), or instead require only proof that the employer had a mixed motive (i.e., that an improper motive was one of multiple reasons for the employment action). These two concepts are commonly referred to in the employment law field as: (1) a “but for” standard; and (2) a “mixed motive” standard.

The Case is University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, and while the issue stated above may appear to present a tedious differential, the Justices’ decision will be very important to employment attorneys because a mixed motive standard for retaliation is much easier for employees to prove.  It hardly requires explanation, but it is much easier for an employee to prove that his or her employer took an adverse employment action (i.e. demotion, suspension, termination, etc…) partly based on a retaliatory motive than it is to prove that the employer would not have taken the adverse employment action at all if it were not for the retaliatory motive.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar on April 24, 2013, and, as employment discrimination lawyers we will be following the developments closely.

If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use and access to this website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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