Employment discrimination is one of the fastest growing areas of civil litigation, and courts report that they are being “swamped” with these claims. Motivated in part by a desire to assist litigants through the labyrinth of employment discrimination law, and in part by a need to control their dockets, district courts in the Eighth Circuit have begun to develop standardized forms for use in these cases. One of the innovations in standardization is the Manual of Model Civil Jury Instructions for the District Courts of the Eighth Circuit (Model Instructions). It is important that scholars and practitioners, particularly those within the Eighth Circuit, critically examine these instructions. This article scrutinizes the charge recommended by the Model Instructions in Title VII disparate treatment claims. The examination begins with a brief review of two Title VII metaphors: pretext and mixed-motive disparate treatment discrimination claims. It then reviews the changes made to those metaphors by the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Part IV scrutinizes the disparate treatment jury charge recommended by the Model Instructions, and Part V discusses why the instructions are erroneous. Next, the article examines cases from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and other United States Courts of Appeals, concluding that the Model Instructions are inconsistent with these precedents. Finally, this article proposes an improved formula jury instruction along with an alternative interpretation of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
Karen A. Haase,
Mixed Metaphors: Model Civil Jury Instructions for Title VII Disparate Treatment Claims,
76 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol76/iss4/10