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Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc.

United States Supreme Court
557 U.S. 167 (2009)


Facts

Jack Gross (plaintiff) was reassigned to a different job position by his employer, FBL Financial Services, Inc. (FBL) (defendant). Gross sued FBL under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-34 alleging that FBL’s decision to demote him was partly motivated by his age. FBL contended that Gross’s reassignment was due to company restructuring and that Gross’s skill set better fit the new position. Following a jury trial, the district court instructed the jury that it should find in Gross’s favor if he showed, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his age was a motivating factor in FBL’s decision to reassign him. The district court instructed the jury that it should find in FBL’s favor if FBL proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that it would have made the same decision absent any consideration of Gross’s age. The jury found in Gross’s favor and awarded him damages. On appeal, FBL challenged the mixed-motives jury instructions. Gross acknowledged he had not offered direct evidence of age discrimination, and the court of appeals held that the district court should not have given the mixed-motives jury instructions. Gross sought United States Supreme Court review by a petition for writ of certiorari, which was granted.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

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Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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