This Note examines the St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks decision and its likely effects on future Title VII disparate treatment claims. The Note begins with a brief review of the case law governing the burden of proof and then outlines the facts and procedural history of the Hicks case, including both the majority and dissenting opinions. The analysis of the majority is supported as the logical and necessary result of two antecedents: Federal Rule of Evidence 3019 and the Court's opinion in Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine. The potential impact of the decision on Title VII disparate treatment litigation is also discussed. The Note concludes that the Court's decision to predicate Title VII liability upon an actual finding of unlawful intentional discrimination was correct both as a matter of law and as a matter of policy. Hicks does increase the plaintiff's burden in disparate treatment cases. However, that increase is not inappropriate or unfair. The proper construction and operation of Rule 301 of the Federal Rules of Evidence mandate that the Title VII disparate treatment plaintiff carry the burden of convincing the factfinder that the defendant unlawfully discriminated. To allow the plaintiff to prevail upon a lesser showing would be contrary to established law and would ignore the Supreme Court's repeated admonition that the Title VII plaintiff at all times bears the "ultimate burden of persuasion."
Ronald A. Schmidt,
The Plaintiff's Burden in Title VII Disparate Treatment Cases: Discrimination Vel Non—St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks, 113 S. Ct. 2742 (1993),
73 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol73/iss4/7