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McDonnell Douglas v. Green, (Standard for Proving Discrimination)

• Lorillard v. Pons, (Jury Trial Rights Under ADEA)

• Oscar Mayer & Co. v. Evans, (State Law Remedies Under ADEA)

• Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, (Standard to Evaluate Employer’s Non-Discriminatory Reason for Termination)

• Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Thurston, (Senority Rights)

• Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, (Gender/Sex and Age Sterotyping)

• Astoria Federal Savings and Loan Association v. Saliminio, (Effect of State Agency Determination)

• Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggins, (Termination Preceding Pension Vesting)

• St. Mary’s Honor Center v. Hicks, (Intentional Discrimination)

• McKennon v. Nashville Banner Publishing Co., (Reduction in Force Case)

• O’Connor v. Consolidated Coin Caterers, (Replacement by Younger Worker)

• Reeves v. Sanders Plumbing Products, Inc., (New Standard for Intention Discrimination)

Kramer + Crone AgeRights

Summarized United States Supreme Court Cases

Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins,
490 U.S. 228 (1981)

The Plaintiff in this case, Ann Hopkins, was a senior manager in an office of the Defendant when she was proposed for partnership. She was neither offered a partnership position or denied one, but rather was held for reconsideration the next year. When the next year came, the partners refused to repropose her for partnership. Hopkins sued in federal court under Title VII, charging sex discrimination. The district court found for the Plaintiff on the question of liability, holding that the Defendant had unlawfully discriminated against the Plaintiff by giving credence to partners’ comments about her that resulted from sex stereotyping. The District of Columbia Circuit affirmed. Both Courts held that an employer who has allowed a discriminatory motive to play a part in an employment decision must prove by clear and convincing evidence that it would have made the same decision in the absence of discrimination and that the Defendant had not carried this burden.

The Defendant appealed to the Supreme Court. The high Court took the case and reversed the lower courts. The Court held that a Title VII defendant could avoid liability in a mixed-motive case by proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that it would have taken the adverse employment action in the absence of the unlawful discriminatory motive. The Supreme Court held that the lower courts erred by requiring the Defendant to make its proof by clear and convincing evidence. This test was subsequently adopted by all federal courts in ADEA cases.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 altered the Price Waterhouse mixed-motive standard in Title VII cases. The CRA of 1991 provides that an unlawful employment practice is established when the Plaintiff demonstrates that race, color, national origin or sex was a motivating factor for any employment practice, even though other factors also motivated the practice. Under the 1991 CRA, even if the defendant proves that it would have made the same decision absent the discriminatory motive, the plaintiff may receive declaratory and injunctive relief as well as attorney’s fees and costs.

With this modification, the question arose of whether Congress intended to alter the Price Waterhouse test for claims brought under the ADEA as well. The few federal courts which have addressed this question have said, "No," and have continued to apply the original Price Waterhouse standard to age discrimination mixed-motive cases. See Doll v. Brown, 75 F.3d 1200 (7th Cir. 1996); Hutson v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 63 F.3d 771 (8th Cir. 1995).

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