Willamette Law Online

United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted


ListPreviousNext


Univ. Texas Southwestern Med. v. Nassar

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: January 18, 2013
Case #: 12-484
Court Below: Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 674 F.3d 448 (2012)
Full Text Opinion: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/11/11-10338-CV0.wpd.pdf

Employment Law: Whether Title VII’s retaliation provision and related statutes require plaintiff to prove discrimination was a “but-for cause” for an adverse employment action or merely a “motivating factor” for the action.

A federal jury returned a verdict finding that Petitioner violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.) by constructively discharging Respondent from his position on Petitioner’s faulty in retaliation for Respondent reporting his supervisor’s ongoing racial harassment, and by preventing Respondent’s employment with an affiliate hospital.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found Respondent’s constructive discharge claim failed to “prove the existence of an aggravating factor” and remanded to the trial court to reconsider Respondent’s monetary award, but affirmed his retaliation claim reasoning that there was “sufficient evidence” that Petitioner’s reason for blocking Respondent’s transfer to the affiliate hospital “was pretext or that, while true, was only one reason for their being fired, and race was another motivating factor.”

On appeal, Petitioner argues the court’s opinion is inconsistent with Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., 557 U.S. 167 (2009) which held that Title VII’s retaliation provision and relating statutes require plaintiff to prove discrimination was a “but-for cause” for an adverse employment action and not merely a “motivating factor” for the action.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve a circuit split surrounding the proper interpretation of Gross.