October 14th, 2013 | Comments Off on U.S. Supreme Court Limits Opportunities for Plaintiffs (2 of 2)


As of June 24, 2013, it has become harder for employee plaintiffs to prove that an employer is liable for unlawful harassment and retaliation. The U.S. Supreme Court issued two very significant employment law cases, both of which handed victory to the employers.

The Court in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar considered the standard of proof under the retaliation provision of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). Specifically, it  addressed the question of whether a plaintiff must prove “but-for” causation (i.e., that the employer would not have taken the adverse employment action but for an improper retaliatory motive), or whether an employee can prove retaliation merely by presenting evidence that retaliation was a “motivating factor” in the decision (i.e., that retaliation was one of the multiple reasons why the employer took the adverse employment action). Justice Kennedy authored the Nassar decision in another 5-to-4 ruling (with the same justices on each side of the issue as in Vance). He held that Title VII retaliation claims must be proved according to the more stringent “but-for” causation standard, rather than the lower standard for proving unlawful discrimination defined in the discrimination section of Title VII.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, No. 12-484, U.S. Supreme Court (June 24, 2013).

Read the entire Article Here: Employers 2 Plaintiffs 0