McDonnell Douglas Corporation v. Green: The Initial Decision

2012-09-17 05:54:40 by admin

McDonnell Douglas Corporation v. Green

McDonnell Douglas Corporation v. Green: Clarifying Cases

At issue in McDonnell Douglas was a claim that the plaintiff’s former employer relied on racially motivated hiring practices. The suit began after the plaintiff engaged in disruptive and illegal activity due to his having been fired. In a disparate treatment case where only circumstantial evidence is available, the court found, an employee first must establish a prima facie case of discrimination. Prima facie means that a court will presume that an employee’s discrimination claim is true unless contrary evidence is provided. The employee need only show facts that give rise to an inference of intentional discrimination.

In order to establish a prima facie case of discrimination in hiring, for example, applicants must show that they are members of a protected group covered by the law, applied for an available position, were qualified, and were rejected, and that the job remained open and the employer continued to seek qualified applicants, or the job was filled by someone who was not in a protected group. If job seekers or employees establish prima facie cases and employers do not come up with any nondiscriminatory reasons for their action, then employees will prevail.

After employees or job applicants establish prima facie cases, employers can rebut their claims by articulating legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for their employment actions. At the same time, employers do not have to prove these facts; they merely have to offer explanations why plaintiffs were not hired. Once employers offer explanations, it is up to plaintiffs to prove that those justifications were untrue pretexts for discrimination.