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Foster v. University of Maryland-Eastern Shore

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

May 21, 2015

IRIS FOSTER, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND-EASTERN SHORE, Defendant - Appellee. METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, Amicus Supporting Appellant

Argued: January 27, 2015.

Page 244

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 245

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. (1:10-cv-01933-TJS). Paul W. Grimm, Magistrate Judge; Timothy J. Sullivan, Magistrate Judge.

ARGUED:

Leizer Z. Goldsmith, THE GOLDSMITH LAW FIRM, LLC, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

Carl N. Zacarias, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MARYLAND, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Douglas F. Gansler, Attorney General of Maryland, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MARYLAND, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

Richard R. Renner, KALIJARVI, CHUZI, NEWMAN & FITCH, P.C., Washington, D.C.; Denise M. Clark, CLARK LAW GROUP, PLLC, Washington, D.C.; Ellen K. Renaud, SWICK & SHAPIRO, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae.

Before KEENAN, WYNN, and FLOYD, Circuit Judges. Judge Floyd wrote the opinion, in which Judge Keenan and Judge Wynn joined.

OPINION

Page 246

FLOYD, Circuit Judge:

This appeal concerns the effect of the Supreme Court's decision in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, 133 S.Ct. 2517, 186 L.Ed.2d 503 (2013), on what Title VII retaliation plaintiffs must show to survive a motion for summary judgment. In Nassar, the Court held that a successful retaliation plaintiff must prove that retaliatory animus was a but-for cause of the challenged adverse employment action, eliminating mixed-motive liability under the " lessened" motivating factor test. However, the Nassar Court was silent as to the application of but-for causation in McDonnell Douglas pretext cases. Because we conclude that Nassar did not alter the McDonnell Douglas analysis for retaliation claims, we reverse in part the district court's grant of summary judgment.

I.

On March 12, 2007, Plaintiff-Appellant Iris Foster was hired by Defendant-Appellee the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore (the University) as a campus police officer.[1] Her appointment was subject to a standard six-month probationary period, during which she was essentially an at-will employee. The campus police department was supervised by Lawrence Wright. Rudolph Jones, one of Foster's new coworkers, ...


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