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On June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court announced its decision in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar. The question in the case is whether the retaliation provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires a plaintiff to prove but-for causation (i.e., that an employer would not have taken the retaliatory employment action “but for” the plaintiff’s engaging in protected conduct)--or instead merely requires proof that the employer had a mixed motive (i.e., that an retaliation was one of multiple reasons for the adverse employment action). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the mixed-motive standard applied.

In an opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that employee retaliation claims under Title VII must be proved according to traditional principles of but-for causation, not the lesser mixed-motive test. The decision of the Fifth Circuit was vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings. Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.

To discuss the case, we have Charles Shanor, who is a Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law.

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