Jurisprudence: Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins

In 1989, Ann Hopkins sued Price Waterhouse under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, alleging that Price Waterhouse had denied her the chance of becoming a partner at the firm because she was a woman. Her case traveled all the way to the Supreme Court, where a plurality held that, given a set of both discriminatory and nondiscriminatory factors, an employer does not violate Title VII if it can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it would have made the same employment decision even absent the discriminatory factor. In Bostock v. Clayton County (the case next term for which I will write my own opinion), the employees alleging discrimination make a litany of citations to Hopkins’ case in their briefsā€”especially its discussion of sex stereotyping under Title VII. Consequently, I take a look at the Supreme Court’s 1989 decision in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins and assess subsequent legal developments and its relevancy today.

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