Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins
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This landmark case established that gender stereotyping is an actionable claim under Title VII and that mixed-motive theories of discrimination are available to Title VII plaintiffs.
What Happened in Court
In Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, the Court sought to determine “the respective burdens of proof of a defendant and plaintiff in a suit under Title VII when it has been shown that an employment decision resulted from a mixture of legitimate and illegitimate motives.” Succinctly stated, the plaintiff was up for partnership at a prestigious accounting firm and believed that she was passed over because management regarded her as “somewhat masculine.” The Supreme Court found held that such “gender stereotyping” claims were actionable under Title VII and, further, that a defendant may only avoid liability by proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it would have made the same decision even if it had not taken plaintiff’s gender into account.