Supreme Court to Review Causation Standard in Retaliation Case

On January 18, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert. in the case of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar.  At issue is whether a plaintiff in a Title VII retaliation claim should be entitled to the more lenient “mixed-motive” instruction.  Circuit Courts have split on the issue, some holding that retaliation claims, unlike direct discrimination claims, are not entitled to a mixed motive instruction.  Alternatively, a retaliation complainant would have to prove that the adverse employment action would not have occurred “but for” the retaliatory motive.  While a mixed-motive finding will not typically subject an employer to compensatory and punitive damages, the employee can still seek and award of injunctive relief and attorney fees.