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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Hospital Retaliation Case to Go Before High Court

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Supreme Court agreed to weigh a retaliation judgment for a Texas doctor who claims that his old boss ensured that he could not get a job with an affiliated clinic.

Naiel Nassar said he resigned from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and was then denied a position at Parkland Hospital, where UTSW faculty make up most of the physician staff.

Nassar served as a clinician at Parkland's Amelia Court Clinic, which specializes in the treatment of HIV and AIDS.

He claimed, and a federal jury in North Texas found, that a UTSW superior's racially motivated harassment constituted constructive discharge. The jury also found that UTSW retaliated against Nassar by preventing him from obtaining a position at Parkland after he resigned from UTSW.

In March 2012, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit partly affirmed. It found sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict on the retaliation claim, but said there was insufficient evidence of constructive discharge.

UTSW petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari, noting discord between the 1989 decision Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins and the 2000 decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc.

"The courts of appeals have since divided 3-2 on whether Gross or Price Waterhouse establishes the general rule for other federal employment statutes, such as Title VII's retaliation provision, that do not specifically authorize mixed-motive claims," according to the questions presented to the court.

In resolving the issue, the high court will decide whether "Title VII's retaliation provision and similarly worded statutes require a plaintiff to prove but-for causation (i.e., that an employer would not have taken an adverse employment action but for an improper motive), or instead require only proof that the employer had a mixed motive (i.e., that an improper motive was one of multiple reasons for the employment action."

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