San Diego Law Review


Joss Teal

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



This Comment examines the circuit split that has developed over the application of but-for causation in Title VII retaliation claims. Following a brief look into the traditional requirements of a Title VII retaliation plaintiff, Part II assesses the 2013 Supreme Court holding that established but-for causation as the required causation standard and surveys courts of appeal holdings in its wake. After examining policy considerations and arguments put forward for each position in Part III, this Comment clarifies the misperception that the McDonnell Douglas framework necessarily proves but-for causation. In Part IV, this Comment proposes that the Supreme Court should rectify the split by acknowledging that but-for causation need only be proven at the ultimate stage of a retaliation case and that, under such a requirement, only a strong version will maintain the efficacy of the McDonnell Douglas framework.

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Civil Law Commons