Direct evidence is evidence of conduct or statements that reveal a discriminatory motive for the adverse employment action, i.e., proves the fact of discriminatory animus without inference or presumption. In other words, direct evidence “reflects directly the alleged discriminatory attitude” and “bear[s] directly on the contested employment decision.” Warch v. Ohio Cas. Ins. Co., 435 F.3d 510, 520 (4th Cir. 2006) (quoting Taylor v. Va. Union Univ., 193 F.3d 219, 232 (4th Cir.1999) (en banc) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)). Direct evidence “typically consists of clearly sexist, racist, or similarly discriminatory statements or actions by the employer.” Coghlan v. Am. Seafoods Co. LLC, 413 F.3d 1090, 1095 (9th Cir. 2005).
In Griffith v. City of Des Moines, 387 F.3d 733, 736 (8th Cir. 2004), the Eight Circuit defined direct evidence as follows:
[D]irect evidence is evidence “showing a specific link between the alleged discriminatory animus and the challenged decision, sufficient to support a finding by a reasonable fact finder that an illegitimate criterion actually motivated” the adverse employment action. Thus, “direct” refers to the causal strength of the proof, not whether it is ‘circumstantial’ evidence. A plaintiff with strong (direct) evidence that illegal discrimination motivated the employer’s adverse action does not need the three-part McDonnell Douglas analysis to get to the jury, regardless of whether his strong evidence is circumstantial.
Hiring an experienced employment lawyer
Hiring a proven and effective advocate is critical to obtaining the maximum recovery in an employment discrimination case. Eric Bachman, Chair of the Firm’s Discrimination Practice, has substantial experience litigating precedent-setting individual and class action discrimination cases. His wins include a $100 million settlement in a disparate impact Title VII class action and a $16 million class action settlement against a major grocery chain. Having served as Special Litigation Counsel in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and as lead or co-counsel in numerous jury trials, Bachman is trial-tested and ready to fight for you to obtain the relief that you deserve.
Bachman writes frequently on topics related to promotion discrimination, harassment, and other employment discrimination issues at the Glass Ceiling Discrimination Blog.
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