Summary of NELA’s Amicus Brief:
- The Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that to effectively enforce Title VII’s substantive protections, Title VII’s antiretaliation provision must be broadly interpreted to ensure unfettered access to statutory remedial mechanisms.
- The Court should reaffirm that while unlawful retaliation must prompt an employment decision, it need not be the sole factor.
- It is a workplace reality that adverse employment decisions can have multiple causes, and that Title VII is violated if an illegitimate motive plays a meaningful role in the ultimate decision made. Congress explicitly recognized that employment decisions involve multiple motives, but a discriminatory “motivating factor” should never be tolerated and must be purged from the employment process.
- When the language of Title VII after the 1991 amendments is read in context with the Court’s broad protection of the right to be free from workplace retaliation and the legislative history of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, a fair reading compels the conclusion that the law is violated if an illegitimate motive is a “motivating factor” in an adverse employment decision.
- Having different standards for proving intentional discrimination under the same statute would only create confusion for the parties, the trial courts, and the jury.
Author: Professor Michael L. Foreman, Pennsylvania State University, Civil Rights Appellate Clinic