Cardozo Law Review de•novo

Document Type

Student Note

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Graduation Year



This Note discusses the practical impact resulting from the different modifications of the first prong of the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework in reverse discrimination cases. Part I of this Note will provide background information on traditional Title VII racial discrimination claims, when a minority plaintiff alleges racial discrimination in her workplace. Then, it will introduce the three step burden-shifting framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, which is the foundation for reverse racial discrimination cases. This Note focuses on the first of the four prongs of the prima facie analysis used by federal courts. Part II will introduce each of the three modified approaches for reverse race discrimination analysis. This Part will also analyze, in detail, the divergent elements that circuit courts consider for satisfying the first prong of the prima facie case. Part II will continue by focusing on the arguments set forth by legal scholars, including the advantages and critiques associated with each approach. The essential link between these approaches’ advantages and disadvantages and their rationale rests on Caucasian plaintiffs’ burdens.

Part III will propose a combination of factors test. This approach to the McDonnell Douglas framework recommends that the first prong of the prima facie case draw from essential factors that are viable to the current three approaches. The combination of factors test allows a Caucasian plaintiff to make a prima facie case for reverse discrimination by alleging relevant background circumstances as well as indirect evidence. This Note concludes by reiterating the importance for federal courts to unify its approaches when dealing with the first prong of the McDonnell Douglas reverse discrimination prima facie case.


Cardozo Law Review de·novo



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