Supreme Court Rules on Sprint Age Discrimination Case

The Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion today by Justice Thomas in Sprint v. Mendelsohn, an employment discrimination case in which PFAWF had joined eleven other civil rights groups in filing an amicus curiae brief in support of the plaintiff-employee, as earlier discussed on Court Watch here. The Court's ruling adopted the position that our brief had urged — namely, that in an employment discrimination case, evidence of unlawful employment discrimination from co-workers who were supervised by people other than the plaintiff's supervisor cannot be subjected to a per se rule of exclusion, a very harmful per se rule that had been urged by Sprint and its supporting amici.

The Court's decision today is primarily about the role of district court judges in determining the admissibility of evidence in the first instance, and the Court ruled that the 10th Circuit, which had reversed the trial court's exclusion of "other supervisor evidence," had erred in then holding the evidence admissible, rather than sending the case back to the trial court to clarify the basis for excluding the evidence. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts to have the district court clarify the basis for excluding the "other supervisor" evidence. In the context of this remand to the lower courts, the Supreme Court's opinion states that the Federal Rules of Evidence "do not make such evidence per se admissible or per se inadmissible."

PFAW