Saturday, May 4, 2013

Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa case brief

Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa case brief
539 U.S. 90

CASE SYNOPSIS: Respondent former employee sued petitioner employer, alleging sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e et seq. A jury rendered a verdict for the employee and awarded her damages. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, en banc, reinstated the district court's judgment, finding that the district court did not err in giving a mixed-motive instruction. Certiorari was granted.

FACTS: The employee presented evidence that (1) she was stalked by a supervisor, (2) she received harsher discipline than men, (3) she was treated less favorably than men in the assignment of overtime, and (4) supervisors stacked her disciplinary record and used or tolerated sex-based slurs against her. The district court gave the jury a mixed-motive instruction and rejected the Secretary's objection, which claimed that the employee had failed to adduce "direct evidence" that sex was a motivating factor in her dismissal. The Court determined that the district court did not abuse its discretion in giving a mixed-motive instruction to the jury. Under 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e-2(m), the employee only had to "demonstrate" that the employer used a forbidden consideration with respect to any employment practice; therefore, the employee did not need to present direct evidence of discrimination in order to obtain a mixed-motive instruction. The employee only needed to present sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude, by a preponderance of the evidence, that race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was a motivating factor for any employment practice.

CONCLUSION: The Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court.

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