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Supreme Court Adopts More Stringent Standard of Proof for Retaliation Claims

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued its decision in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, adopting a “but for” standard of proof for Title VII retaliation claims. Previously, there had been a split amongst the Federal Courts of Appeal as to the proper standard of proof in retaliation cases. Specifically, there was a question as to whether the stringent “but for” standard, or the more lenient “motivating factor” standard which applies to general Title VII discrimination claims, should apply to retaliation claims. By holding that an employee must prove that an employer would not have made its adverse decision “but for” its improper retaliatory motive, the Supreme Court has made it more difficult for employees to prove retaliation, and as Justice Ginsburg recognizes in her dissent, weakened the protections afforded to employees in the workplace.