Supreme Court Decides that Title VII Mixed-Motives Analysis Does Not Apply to Age Discrimination Cases


The U.S. Supreme Court in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., No. 08-441 (June 18, 2009) has held that the burden-shifting analysis that is available in so-called mixed-motives cases under Title VII does not apply to claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Rather, the Court held that a plaintiff bringing a disparate treatment claim under the ADEA bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that his or her age was the "but-for" cause of the challenged adverse employment action. In other words, even if there is some evidence that age was a factor in the challenged employment decision, the plaintiff cannot prevail unless he or she can prove that, but for his or her age, the employer would not have taken the challenged action.

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