California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

2507. “Substantial Motivating Reason” Explained

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2507.“Substantial Motivating Reason” Explained
A “substantial motivating reason” is a reason that actually contributed
to the [specify adverse employment action]. It must be more than a
remote or trivial reason. It does not have to be the only reason
motivating the [adverse employment action].
New December 2007; Revised June 2013
Directions for Use
Read this instruction with CACI No. 2500, Disparate Treatment—Essential Factual
Elements, CACI No. 2505, Retaliation—Essential Factual Elements, CACI No.
2540, Disability Discrimination—Disparate Treatment—Essential Factual Elements,
CACI No. 2560, Religious Creed Discrimination—Failure to
Accommodate—Essential Factual Elements, or CACI No. 2570, Age
Discrimination—Disparate Treatment—Essential Factual Elements.
Sources and Authority
• Discrimination Prohibited Under Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Government Code section 12940(a).
• Causation Under Federal Law. Title 42 United States Code section 2000e-2(m).
• “Substantial Motivating Factor” Explained. Title 2 California Code of
Regulations section 11009(c).
• “Because of the similarity between state and federal employment discrimination
laws, California courts look to pertinent federal precedent when applying our
own statutes.” (Guz v. Bechtel National, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 317, 354 [100
Cal.Rptr.2d 352, 8 P.3d 1089].)
• “While a complainant need not prove that [discriminatory] animus was the sole
motivation behind a challenged action, he must prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that there was a ‘causal connection’ between the employee’s protected
status and the adverse employment decision.” (Mixon v. Fair Employment and
Housing Com. (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1306, 1319 [237 Cal.Rptr. 884].)
• “The employee need not show ‘he would have in any event been rejected or
discharged solely on the basis of his race, without regard to the alleged
deficiencies. . . .’ In other words, ‘while a complainant need not prove that
racial animus was the sole motivation behind the challenged action, he must
prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there was a “causal connection”
between the employee’s protected status and the adverse employment
decision.’ ” (Clark v. Claremont University Center (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 639,
665 [8 Cal.Rptr.2d 151], citing McDonald v. Santa Fe Trail Transp. Co. (1976)
427 U.S. 273, 282, fn. 10 [96 S.Ct. 2574, 49 L.Ed.2d 493, 502] and Mixon,
supra, 192 Cal.App.3d at p. 1319.)
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• “Requiring the plaintiff to show that discrimination was a substantial motivating
factor, rather than simply amotivating factor, more effectively ensures that
liability will not be imposed based on evidence of mere thoughts or passing
statements unrelated to the disputed employment decision. At the same
time, . . . proof that discrimination was a substantial factor in an employment
decision triggers the deterrent purpose of the FEHA and thus exposes the
employer to liability, even if other factors would have led the employer to make
the same decision at the time.” (Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56
Cal.4th 203, 232 [152 Cal.Rptr.3d 392, 294 P.3d 49], original italics.)
• “We do not suggest that discrimination must be alone sufficient to bring about
an employment decision in order to constitute a substantial motivating factor.
But it is important to recognize that discrimination can be serious,
consequential, and even by itself determinative of an employment decision
without also being a “but for” cause.” (Harris,supra, 56 Cal.4th at p. 229.)
• “Although [plaintiff] contends that a jury in an employment discrimination case
would not draw any meaningful distinction between ‘a motivating reason’ and
‘a substantial motivating reason’ in deciding whether there was unlawful
discrimination, the Supreme Court reached a contrary conclusion in Harris
[supra]. The court specifically concluded that ‘[r]equiring the plaintiff to show
that discrimination was a substantial motivating factor, rather than simply a
motivating factor, more effectively ensures that liability will not be imposed
based on evidence of mere thoughts or passing statements unrelated to the
disputed employment decision.’ ” (Alamo v. Practice Management Information
Corp. (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 466, 479 [161 Cal.Rptr.3d 758].)
Secondary Sources
Chin et al., California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation, Ch. 7-A, Title VII
And The California Fair Employment And Housing Act, ¶¶ 7:485–7:508 (The Rutter
Group)
1 Wrongful Employment Termination Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar 2d ed.) Discrimination
Claims, §§ 2.61–2.65, 2.87
2 Wilcox, California Employment Law, Ch. 41, Substantive Requirements Under
Equal Employment Opportunity Laws, § 41.11[1] (Matthew Bender)
11 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 115, Civil Rights: Employment
Discrimination, § 115.23[2] (Matthew Bender)
California Civil Practice: Employment Litigation, §§ 2:20–2:21, 2:75 (Thomson
Reuters)
CACI No. 2507 FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING ACT
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