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Mixed Motive Evidentiary Standard

Mixed-Motive Evidentiary Standard


Mixed-Motive Evidentiary Standard — an evidentiary standard that applies in certain employment discrimination cases. (Whether or not the mixed-motive evidentiary standard applies depends upon (1) the particular jurisdiction in which a case is filed and (2) the exact type of discrimination alleged.) Under this standard, employee-plaintiffs must prove that the employer's discriminatory act for which a claim is being brought (e.g., termination, reassignment, demotion) was merely a factor, but not necessarily the primary factor, that motivated the employer-defendant's particular action. For example, assume that an employee is terminated for low productivity that had been documented during the previous 6 months. At the exit interview, the employee is referred to as "one of our older workers" by the company's human resources manager. Under the mixed-motive evidentiary standard, to succeed in his claim, the worker need only provide some evidence that he was discriminated against on the basis of age, such as the remark about being referred to as an "older worker." This is despite the fact that his lack of productivity was the employer's primary motivation for terminating him.

Employees favor the "mixed-motive" standard because it requires a relatively low level of proof to support a discrimination case.

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