Friday, April 26, 2013

SCOTUS will decide whether "but for" or "mixed motive" test applies to retaliation claims

The case is:

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar:

United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.

Naiel NASSAR, MD, Plaintiff–Appellee/Cross–Appellant,

No. 11–10338.
March 8, 2012.


[5] Headnote Citing References The required proof for a Title VII retaliation claim is less demanding than constructive discharge. “It goes without saying that, when a race-discrimination claim has been fully tried, as has this one, this court need not parse the evidence into discrete segments corresponding to a prima facie case, an articulation of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employer's decision, and a showing of pretext.” DeCorte v. Jordan.FN14 Our review is instead “to determine only whether the record contains sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to have made its ultimate finding that [the employer's] stated reason for [taking adverse employment action against the employee] was pretext or that, while true, was only one reason for their being fired, and race was another motivating factor.”FN15

FN14. 497 F.3d 433, 437–38 (5th Cir.2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).

FN15. Id. at 438.

[6] Headnote Citing References Nassar's claim is that Fitz blocked his move to become a Parkland staff physician because he complained about harassment by Levine. UTSW has argued here and at trial that Fitz thwarted Nassar's prospective employment at Parkland as a routine application of UTSW's rights under the UTSW–Parkland affiliation agreement. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, Nassar offered sufficient proof that Fitz invoked UTSW's putative rights under the agreement in order to punish Nassar for his complaints about Levine. Keiser testified that Fitz told him that Nassar's complaints in the resignation letter were his reason for blocking the Parkland position. UTSW put on testimony indicating that Fitz made his decision before the letter and that he regarded the matter as a routine application of the agreement. The jury considered both parties' evidence and resolved the conflict against UTSW. Since “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge,” we find no basis to upset the jury's verdict that UTSW retaliated against Nassar because of his complaints of racial discrimination.

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