In a major ruling with employment law impact, a nearly unanimous Supreme Court ruled recently that a plaintiff claiming race discrimination under a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (commonly referred to as Section 1981) must prove that race was the “but-for” cause of the alleged harm in order to prevail.

“Section 1981” is a Civil War-era federal law barring intentional race discrimination in the making and enforcement of contracts, and for several decades now has been interpreted to apply in the employment context. Section 1981 claims are often raised in conjunction with race discrimination claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.3 The ruling by the Court in Comcast v. National Association of African-American Owned Media, No. 18-1171 (U.S. March 23, 2020), rejected the argument that Section 1981 allows for the more lenient “motivating factor” standard of proof permitted under Title VII on grounds that it would have required the Court to act as a legislative body and amend the statute instead of interpreting it.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.