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Patterson v. McLean Credit Union

United States Supreme Court
491 U.S. 164 (1989)


Brenda Patterson (Patterson) (plaintiff), a black employee, worked for McLean Credit Union (McLean) (defendant) for a decade before being laid off in 1982. Patterson sued McLean for various violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, including a claim that McLean denied Patterson a promotion in favor of a lesser-qualified, white employee. In response, McLean alleged that the white employee was more qualified for the position than Patterson. In its jury instructions, the district court told the jury that in order to succeed on her promotion-denial claim, Patterson had to prove that she was, in fact, more qualified for the open position than the white employee selected. The jury rejected Patterson’s promotion claim. The court of appeals affirmed. Patterson challenged the portion of the district court’s jury instructions related to her promotion claim, ultimately petitioning for United States Supreme Court review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

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