Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs.

Supreme Court of the United States

March 31, 2009, Argued; June 18, 2009, Decided

No. 08-441

Case Summary

Procedural Posture

Petitioner employee filed an action against respondent employer alleging that his reassignment violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C.S. § 621 et seq. A jury returned a verdict for the employee. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that the jury had been incorrectly instructed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Overview

The district court instructed the jury that it had to return a verdict for the employee if he proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his age was a motivating factor in the employer's decision. The parties asked the Supreme Court to decide whether a plaintiff had to present direct evidence of discrimination in order to obtain a mixed-motive instruction in a non-Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e et seq., discrimination case. Because Title VII was materially different with respect to the relevant burden of persuasion, decisions construing Title VII did not control the construction of the ADEA. The Supreme Court found that the burden of persuasion necessary to establish employer liability was the same in alleged mixed-motives cases as in any other ADEA action. A plaintiff bringing a disparate-treatment claim under the ADEA had to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that age was the "but-for" cause of the challenged adverse employment action. The burden of persuasion did not shift to the employer to show that it would have taken the action regardless of age, even when a plaintiff produced some evidence that age was one motivating factor.

Outcome

The judgment of the court of appeals was vacated. The case was remanded for further proceedings. 5-4 Decision; 2 Dissents.

LexisNexis® Headnotes

 

 

Labor & Employment Law > ... > Age Discrimination > Scope & Definitions > General Overview

HN1 The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C.S. § 621 et seq., makes it unlawful for an employer to take adverse action against an employee because of such individual's age. 29 U.S.C.S. § 623(a).

 

Labor & Employment Law > ... > Age Discrimination > Evidence > Burdens of Proof

HN2  Burdens of Proof

The burden of persuasion never shifts to the party defending an alleged mixed-motives discrimination claim brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C.S. § 621 et seq.

 

Civil Procedure > US Supreme Court Review > General Overview

Civil Procedure > Appeals > Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions > Preservation for Review

HN3 The statement of any question presented is deemed to comprise every subsidiary question fairly included therein. Sup. Ct. R. 14.1.

 

Labor & Employment Law > ... > Age Discrimination > Evidence > Burdens of Proof

Access the full text caseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

557 U.S. 167 ; 129 S. Ct. 2343 ; 174 L. Ed. 2d 119 ; 2009 U.S. LEXIS 4535 ; 77 U.S.L.W. 4531; 106 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 833; 92 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P43,584; 21 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 958

JACK GROSS, Petitioner v. FBL FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC.

Subsequent History: On remand at, Remanded by Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs., 588 F.3d 614, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 25920 (8th Cir. Iowa, Nov. 30, 2009)

Prior History:  [1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT.

Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs., 526 F.3d 356, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 10355 (8th Cir. Iowa, 2008)

Disposition: 526 F.3d 356, vacated and remanded.