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Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods. Inc.

United States Supreme Court
530 U.S. 133 (2000)


Facts

Roger Reeves (plaintiff), 57, brought suit against his former employer, Sanderson Plumbing Products Inc. (Sanderson) (defendant) under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), alleging that his discharge from Sanderson was impermissibly based on his age. Sanderson claimed that Reeves was terminated because he was responsible for numerous timekeeping errors and misrepresentations relating to the department he oversaw, the Hinge Room. At trial, Reeves presented evidence that Sanderson’s proffered reason for his termination was pretextual. For example, there was testimony that Reeves’ supervisor, Powe Chestnut, said that Reeves was “so old he must have come over on the Mayflower,” and that Chestnut treated Reeves the way one would treat a child who had misbehaved. During the trial, Sanderson made two motions for judgment and a matter of law under Rule 50, both of which were denied. The jury found in favor of Reeves, and Sanderson made a third motion for a judgment as a matter of law, which was denied. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Reeves had not presented enough evidence to sustain the jury’s verdict of intentional discrimination. The court of appeals found that although Reeves may have shown that Sanderson’s reason for his termination was pretextual, he had failed to show the connection between his termination and Sanderson’s discrimination. Reeves appealed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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