Cassotto v. Potter
To prevail in a Title VII retaliation case, a plaintiff must prove the protected activity was the "but for" cause of the adverse employment action. The plaintiff, Robert Cassotto, sued John Potter, the postmaster general. The jury, which was instructed to apply the substantial or motivating factor test, returned a plaintiff's verdict. The defendant moved for a new trial and argued that the U.S. Supreme Court's June 2013 decision in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar should apply retroactively. In Nassar, the U.S. Supreme Court held that to prevail in a Title VII retaliation case a plaintiff must establish the protected activity was the "but for" cause of the employment action. Prior to Nassar, the 2nd Circuit courts held that the plaintiff was required to prove that the protected activity was a substantial or a motivating factor of the employment action. The District Court found that the defendant postmaster general is entitled to a new trial, because the Nassar decision is retroactive, and the jury was instructed to apply the substantial or motivating factor test, as opposed to the "but for" causation test.