Helping You Navigate Employment Law

But You Treated Me Differently! Analyzing Mixed-Motive Discrimination in Employment Decisions

by | Mar 27, 2022 | Firm News

We commonly hear from clients that an employer has terminated them for reasons that seem objectively reasonable, but the client believes that termination would not have occurred had they possessed a different protected characteristic under the law, such as race, gender, national origin, age, disability, height, weight, marital status, etc.  Clients are usually pleased to hear that just because the employer’s reason for termination is partly lawful, the law protects employees under circumstances where they were treated worse at work due to one of those protected characteristics.

In a recent lawsuit we filed, our clients made social media postings on Facebook.  The employer monitored the social media postings and fired the employees because it felt that the postings were insensitive.  The employer in firing the employees was admitting that race played a factor in the terminations.  While the employer’s termination reason could be viewed as lawful because the Facebook postings could be viewed as insensitive, our clients are protected by Title VII’s mixed-motive analysis.  A mixed-motive analysis occurs where the employer had lawful and unlawful reasons for its employment decision.  However, if discrimination was a factor in the employer’s decision-making, the employer may have violated Title VII’s prohibitions on discrimination and retaliation.  The key to demonstrating mixed-motive liability is showing that discrimination played a factor.  In the case discussed above, our firm is attempting to show liability because our clients would not have been terminated had they been of a different race.

If you feel like race, gender, national origin, age, religion, disability, height, weight, marital status, etc. have played a factor in an employer’s decision to terminate you, please contact [email protected] for help.