Document Type

Court Brief

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QUESTIONS PRESENTED McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green established a common method of analyzing evidence of an unlawful discriminatory motive. If a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case of discrimination, the defendant must articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory purpose for the disputed action; where the defendant has done so, the plaintiff has the burden of demonstrating that the proffered purpose was a pretext for discrimination. This Court has repeatedly explained that the burden of establishing a prima facie case is “not onerous.” United States Postal Service Board of Governors v. Aikens held, in the context of a case which had gone to trial, that once a defendant articulates such a nondiscriminatory purpose, it no longer matters whether the plaintiff established a prima facie case; instead, the court should proceed to resolve the ultimate issue of discrimination vel non. The questions presented are: (1) Does the rule in Aikens apply to the evaluation of a discrimination claim at summary judgment? (2) Is a plaintiff claiming discrimination required to prove, as an element of a prima facie case, that he or she was treated less favorably than a “nearly identical” “similarly situated” individual who is not a member of the protected class, a Fifth Circuit requirement which courts have characterized as “stringent,” “strict,” and “demanding?”