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But For Causation in Title VII Retaliation Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court strikes another blow against employees. In a recent decision, the court held that a plaintiff alleging unlawful retaliation for protected opposition to suspected discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act must prove retaliation was the “but for” cause of the adverse employment action.(Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr. v. Nassar, U.S., No. 12-484, 6/24/13).

In a 5-4 decision, the court reversed a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision that a Title VII retaliation plaintiff could prevail if he showed retaliation was a “motivating factor,” among others, for an employer taking adverse action.

The "but for" causation standard is a greater standard than the motivating factor standard. As a result, plaintiffs will have a more difficult time proving causation in retaliation claims.

There is some good news for Connecticut workers. Under Connecticut state law, it is very likely that our courts will continue to apply the "motivating factor" causation standard in retaliation claims brought under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act.

The employment lawyers at Sabatini and Associates, LLC represent people in employment cases including retaliation claims. For more information, call us at 860-667-0839.

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