The case on which this summary is based may no longer be current law.
Also, if the case was decided on summary judgment, the court recited the
"facts" in the light most favorable to the non-movant, which may not be
the true facts.
Fields v. New York State Office of Mental
Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 115 F.3d 116 (2d Cir. May 23, 1997)
Title VII (race discrimination, jury instructions, proof of pretext, entitlement
to mixed-motive instruction)
Introduction: Nathan Fields sued his employer under Title VII for race
discrimination. A jury found in favor of the employer. Fields appeals on the basis that
the district court erred in the jury instructions. But the Second Circuit affirms.
Facts: There are no additional facts relevant to this case summary.
Whether a jury should be instructed that the plaintiff must prove that the defendants'
proffered nondiscriminatory reason was pretextual and that a discriminatory reason
motivated the employer's adverse action?
No. A plaintiff is entitled to have a verdict in his favor if he can
persuade the jury that race was a substantial motivating reason for the adverse employment
action of which he complains.
A Title VII plaintiff is not required to show that the employer's proffered reasons were
false or played no role in the employment decisions, but only that they were not the only
reasons, and that the prohibited factor was at least one of the motivating factors.
Whether Fields was entitled to a Dual Motivation (or Mixed-Motive)
The Dual Motivation Charge is normally an affirmative defense requested
by the employer.
Under the Mixed-Motive Defense, the employer has the burden of proving
that notwithstanding the impermissible motivation that it would have made the same
employment decision based on a permissible factor.
However, the Second Circuit has determined that there are situations
where the plaintiff is entitled to the Dual Motivation Charge --even if the defendant does
not request it.
For a plaintiff to be able to insist on a dual motivation charge, there
must either be direct evidence of discrimination or circumstantial evidence that is tied
directly to the alleged discriminatory animus. This latter approach has been called the
The following is an example of the limited type of evidence that would
require a dual motivation instruction requested solely by the plaintiff:
If the plaintiff's nonstatistical evidence is directly tied to the
forbidden animus, for example policy documents or statements of a person involved in the
decisionmaking process that reflect a discriminatory or retaliatory animus of the type
complained of in the suit, that plaintiff is entitled to a burden-shifting instruction.
However, purely statistical evidence would not warrant such a charge;
nor would evidence merely of the plaintiff's qualification for and the availability of a
given position; nor would "stray" remarks in the workplace by persons who are
not involved in the pertinent decisionmaking process.
here to see