One of the most significant changes in federal racial discrimination cases came with the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African American-Owed Media, et al. News of this precedent was largely eclipsed by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., but the impact will be significant in future racial discrimination employment lawsuits.
For those who may not be familiar, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 of the Civil Rights Act bars race discrimination that is intentional in all forms of contracting. That includes employment. The conflict among lower courts in deciding these cases was whether a plaintiff needed to prove that race discrimination was just one motivating factor among several for the adverse employment action, or whether plaintiff needed to show that race was the “but for” cause. With a “but for” standard, plaintiffs need to prove the adverse outcome wouldn’t have happened “but for” the defendant’s wrongful conduct.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in November 2019 and issued their decision in March 2020. They held that plaintiffs in Section 1981 cases must meet the “but for” causation standard. Continue Reading ›