Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pennsylvania Federal Court Holds There are No Mixed-Motive Retaliation Claims Under Title VII

A magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently ruled on the proof required to prove a retaliation claim under Title VII and held that only the “but-for” standard applied to the plaintiff's retaliation claims and that, as a matter of law, the lesser mixed-motive "motivating factor" standard would never apply to a Title VII retaliation claims in light of the language of the statute and the Supreme Court Justices' reasoning in Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs. Inc. .

A mixed-motive case is where there is evidence that both a legitimate and a discriminatory motive was behind the employment decision. Where there is such evidence, in order to prove discrimination, the plaintiff need only prove that the discriminatory reason was a "motivating factor" in the employment decision, not the sole or "but for" cause of the employment decision. Thus, the plaintiff's burden of proof is lowered.

The case is Zhang v. Children's Hosp. of Philadelphia, Case No. 08-5540 and expect an appeal to the Third Circuit!

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