Title VII is a landmark piece of legislation that prohibits discrimination, including harassment, in employment based on race, sex, religion, color, and national origin by an employer. It also prohibits retaliation against an employee “because” the individual complained of, opposed, or participated in a proceeding about prohibited discrimination.
The U.S Supreme Court’s decision in University of Texas Southwestern Center v. Nassar has modified the interpretation Title VII., and the nature of evidence required to demonstrate retaliation. (Read : Gurumurthy Kalyanaram Reports on U.S. Supreme Court on who is a “Supervisor”?)
After Nassar, the employee must meet a higher burden of proof for her retaliation claims: she must show that the employer’s desire to retaliate was the “but for” (i.e. only) cause of the challenged employment action.
Before Nassar, an employee making a prima facie case for discrimination or retaliation only had to show that the employer’s desire to discriminate or retaliate was a “motivating factor” for the challenged employment action.
Nassar ruling thus makes it much more difficult to prove that an employer unlawfully retaliated against an employee than that an employer discriminated against an employee. The higher “but for” causation standard for retaliation claims/lawsuits is a material change.