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LEXSEE 534 U.S.

506, 510

AKOS SWIERKIEWICZ v. SOREMA N. A.

No. 00-1853

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

534 U.S. 506; 122 S. Ct. 992; 152 L. Ed. 2d 1; 2002 U.S. LEXIS 1374; 70
U.S.L.W. 4152; 88 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1; 82 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH)
P40,899; 51 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 781; 2002 Daily Journal DAR 2152;
15 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 124

January 15, 2002, Argued


February 26, 2002, Decided

PRIOR HISTORY: ON WRIT OF protected group, (2) qualification for


CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT the job in question, (3) an adverse
OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT. employment action, and (4)
circumstances supporting an inference
DISPOSITION: 5 Fed. Appx. 63, of discrimination.
reversed and remanded. An individual, who was allegedly a
native of Hungary and 53 years of age,
filed, in the United States District
DECISION: Court for the Southern District of New
Individual's employment York, a lawsuit against a company. The
discrimination complaint, in asserting individual's complaint claimed that he
claims pursuant to Title VII and Age had been fired by the company (1) on
Discrimination in Employment Act, held account of his national origin, in
not required to contain specific facts asserted violation of Title VII, and
establishing prima facie case of (2) on account of his age, in asserted
discrimination. violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act of 1967, as amended
SUMMARY: (ADEA) (29 USCS 621 et seq.). In
addition, the complaint (1) detailed
In McDonnell Douglas Corp. v Green the events allegedly leading to the
(1973) 411 US 792, 36 L Ed 2d 668, 93 individual's firing, (2) provided
S Ct 1817, which involved a claim of relevant dates, and (3) included the
race discrimination in asserted ages and nationalities of at least
violation of Title VII of the Civil some of the relevant persons allegedly
Rights Act of 1964, as amended (42 involved with his firing. However, the
USCS 2000e et seq.), the United States District Court granted a motion by the
Supreme Court provided a general company to dismiss the complaint, as
standard or framework for establishing the court found that the individual
a prima facie case in a private had not adequately alleged
nonclass action alleging employment circumstances that supported an
discrimination. This framework has inference of discrimination (2000 US
been described as requiring a Dist LEXIS 21547).
plaintiff to show (1) membership in a
On appeal, the United States Court [1G]
of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in
affirming, (1) relied on settled Court In a private nonclass action filed
in a Federal District Court and
of Appeals precedent which required an
employment discrimination complaint to asserting employment discrimination
claims pursuant to Title VII of the
allege facts constituting a prima
facie case of discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended
(42 USCS 2000e et seq.), or the Age
McDonnell Douglas framework; and (2)
expressed the view that the individual Discrimination in Employment Act of
1967, as amended (ADEA) (29 USCS 621
failed to meet this burden, as his
allegations were insufficient as a et seq.), a complaint does not need to
contain specific facts establishing a
matter of law to raise an inference of
discrimination (2001 US App LEXIS prima facie case of discrimination
under the framework set forth by the
3837, 5 Fed Appx 63).
United States Supreme Court in
On certiorari, the United States McDonnell Douglas Corp. v Green (1973)
Supreme Court reversed and remanded. 411 US 792, 36 L Ed 2d 668, 93 S Ct
In an opinion by Thomas, J., 1817, which framework has been
expressing the unanimous opinion of described as requiring a plaintiff to
the court, it was held that: show (1) membership in a protected
group, (2) qualification for the job
(1) In a private nonclass action in question, (3) an adverse employment
filed in a District Court and action, and (4) circumstances
asserting employment discrimination supporting an inference of
claims pursuant to Title VII or the discrimination. Instead, pursuant to
ADEA, a complaint does not need to Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of
contain specific facts establishing a Civil Procedure, such a complaint must
prima facie case of discrimination contain only a short and plain
under the McDonnell Douglas statement of the claims showing that
framework--which, among other matters, the pleader is entitled to relief,
provided a flexible evidentiary for:
standard, not a pleading requirement--
and, instead, pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2) (1) The prima facie case under the
of the Federal Rules of Civil McDonnell Douglas decision is an
Procedure, such a complaint must evidentiary standard--concerning the
contain only a short and plain order and allocation of proof in a
statement of the claims showing that private nonclass action challenging
the pleader is entitled to relief. employment discrimination--not a
pleading requirement, and,
(2) Under this "notice pleading" consequently, the ordinary rules for
standard, the individual's complaint assessing the sufficiency of a
in the case at hand satisfied the complaint apply.
requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) and was
sufficient to survive the company's (2) Under the "notice pleading"
motion to dismiss, because the system of the Federal Rules of Civil
complaint gave the company fair notice Procedure, it is not appropriate to
of the basis for the individual's require a plaintiff to plead facts
claims. establishing a prima facie case,
because the McDonnell Douglas
LAWYERS' EDITION HEADNOTES: framework does not apply in every
employment discrimination case, where,
[***LEdHN1] for instance, if a plaintiff is able
to produce direct evidence of
EVIDENCE §383 discrimination, then the plaintiff may
PLEADING §179 prevail without proving all the
elements of a prima facie case.
-- employment discrimination --
complaint -- prima facie case (3) Given that the McDonnell
Douglas prima facie case operates as a
Headnote:[1A][1B][1C][1D][1E][1F] flexible evidentiary standard, it
should not be transposed into a rigid (2) In addition, the individual's
pleading standard for discrimination complaint (a) detailed the events
cases. allegedly leading to his firing, (b)
provided relevant dates, and (c)
(4) Other provisions of the Federal included the ages and nationalities of
Rules of Civil Procedure are at least some of the relevant persons
inextricably linked to Rule 8(a)'s allegedly involved with his firing.
simplified notice-pleading standard.
(3) These allegations (a) gave the
(5) Whatever the practical merits company fair notice of what the
of an argument that allowing lawsuits individual's claims were and the
based on conclusory allegations of grounds upon which they rested, and
discrimination to go forward would (b) stated claims upon which relief
burden the courts and encourage could be granted under Title VII and
disgruntled employees to bring the ADEA.
unsubstantiated suits, the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure do not
[***LEdHN3]
contain a heightened pleading standard
for employment discrimination suits. APPEAL §1293
(6) A requirement of greater -- presumption -- complaint
specificity for particular claims is a
result that must be obtained by the Headnote:[3A][3B]
process of amending the Federal Rules Because the United States Supreme
of Civil Procedure, not by judicial Court, on certiorari in a civil case,
interpretation. was reviewing a decision granting the
respondent's motion to dismiss, the
[***LEdHN2] Supreme Court had to accept as true
PLEADING §103 all of the factual allegations
contained in the petitioner's
-- employment discrimination -- complaint.
complaint -- dismissal
[***LEdHN4]
Headnote:[2A][2B][2C][2D][2E]
DEPOSITIONS DISCOVERY §22
Under the relevant "notice
pleading" standard, an employment PLEADING §130
discrimination complaint filed in a
Federal District Court by an SUMMARY JUDGMENT JUDGMENT ON
individual, who was allegedly a native PLEADINGS §1
of Hungary and 53 years of age, -- notice of claim
against a company satisfied the
requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) of the Headnote:[4A][4B]
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal
was sufficient to survive a subsequent Rules of Civil Procedure, a
motion by the company to dismiss the complaint's statement of a claim must
complaint, because the complaint gave simply give the defendant fair notice
the company fair notice of the basis of what the plaintiff's claim is and
for the individual's claims, as: the grounds upon which it rests. This
(1) The individual alleged that he liberal and simplified "notice
had been fired by the company (a) on pleading" standard--which was adopted
account of his national origin, in to focus litigation on the merits of a
asserted violation of Title VII of the claim and which applies to all civil
Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended actions, with limited exceptions--
(42 USCS 2000e et seq.), and (b) on relies on liberal discovery rules and
account of his age, in asserted summary judgment motions to define
violation of the Age Discrimination in disputed facts and issues and to
Employment Act of 1967, as amended dispose of unmeritorious claims. In
(ADEA) (29 USCS 621 et seq.). addition, if a pleading fails to
specify the allegations in a manner
that provides sufficient notice, then SYLLABUS
a defendant can move for a more
definite statement, under Rule 12(e) Petitioner, a 53-year-old native of
of the Federal Rules of Civil Hungary, filed this suit against
Procedure, before responding. respondent, his former employer,
alleging that he had been fired on
[***LEdHN5] account of his national origin in
violation of Title VII of the Civil
PLEADING §179 Rights Act of 1964, and on account of
his age in violation of the Age
-- civil rights
Discrimination in Employment Act of
Headnote:[5] 1967 (ADEA). In affirming the District
Court's dismissal of the complaint,
While Rule 9(b) of the Federal the Second Circuit relied on its
Rules of Civil Procedure provides for settled precedent requiring an
greater particularity than the employment discrimination complaint to
simplified pleading standard of Rule allege facts constituting a prima
8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil facie case of discrimination under the
Procedure in all averments of fraud or framework set forth in McDonnell
mistake, complaints in cases of Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792,
municipal liability under 42 USCS 1983 802, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct. 1817.
or employment discrimination, as in The court held that petitioner had
most other cases, must satisfy only failed to meet his burden because his
the simple requirements of Rule 8(a), allegations were insufficient as a
as Rule 9(b) does not refer to 1983 matter of law to raise an inference of
municipal liability or to employment discrimination.
discrimination.
Held: An employment discrimination
[***LEdHN6] complaint need not contain specific
facts establishing a prima facie case
PLEADING §103 under the McDonnell Douglas framework,
-- dismissal but instead must contain only "a short
and plain statement of the claim
Headnote:[6] showing that the pleader is entitled
Given the simplified standard for to relief," Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)
pleading under the Federal Rules of (2). The McDonnell Douglas framework
Civil Procedure, a Federal District -- which requires the plaintiff to
Court may dismiss a complaint only if show (1) membership in a protected
it is clear that no relief could be group, (2) qualification for the job
granted under any set of facts that in question, (3) an adverse employment
could be proved consistent with the action, and (4) circumstances
allegations. supporting an inference of
discrimination -- is an evidentiary
[***LEdHN7] standard, not a pleading requirement.
See, e.g., 411 U.S. at 800. The Court
PLEADING §1 has never indicated that the
requirements for establishing a prima
-- standard
facie case apply to pleading.
Headnote:[7] Moreover, the McDonnell Douglas
framework does not apply where, for
Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of example, a plaintiff is able to
Civil Procedure establishes a pleading produce direct evidence of
standard without regard to whether a
discrimination. See Trans World
claim will succeed on the merits. This Airlines, Inc. v. Thurston, 469 U.S.
is so even though it may appear on the 111, 121, 83 L. Ed. 2d 523, 105 S. Ct.
face of the pleadings that a recovery 613. Under the Second Circuit's
is very remote and unlikely, but that heightened pleading standard, however,
is not the test. a plaintiff without direct evidence at
the time of his complaint must plead a
prima facie case of discrimination
even though discovery might uncover Lauren R. Brody argued the cause for
such direct evidence. It seems respondent.
incongruous to require a plaintiff, in
order to survive a motion to dismiss, JUDGES: THOMAS, J., delivered the
to plead more facts than he may opinion for a unanimous Court.
ultimately need to prove to succeed on
the merits if direct evidence of OPINION BY: THOMAS
discrimination is discovered.
Moreover, the precise requirements of OPINION
the prima facie case can vary with the
context and were "never intended to be [**995] [***6] [*508] JUSTICE
rigid, mechanized, or ritualistic." THOMAS delivered the opinion of the
Furnco Constr. Corp. v. Waters, 438 Court.
U.S. 567, 577, 57 L. Ed. 2d 957, 98 S.
Ct. 2943. It may be difficult to [***LEdHR1A] [1A] [***LEdHR2A]
define the precise formulation of the [2A]This case presents the question
required prima facie case in a whether a complaint in an employment
particular case before discovery has discrimination lawsuit must contain
unearthed relevant facts and evidence. specific facts establishing a prima
Consequently, the prima facie case facie case of discrimination under the
should not be transposed into a rigid framework set forth by this Court in
pleading standard for discrimination McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411
cases. Imposing the Second Circuit's U.S. 792, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct.
heightened standard conflicts with 1817 (1973). We hold that an
Rule 8(a)'s express language, which employment discrimination complaint
requires simply that the complaint need not include such facts and
"give the defendant fair notice of instead must contain only "a short and
what the plaintiff's claim is and the plain statement of the claim showing
grounds upon which it rests." Conley that the pleader is entitled to
v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 2 L. Ed. relief." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2).
2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99. A court may [***7]
dismiss a complaint only if it is I
clear that no relief could be granted
under any set of facts that could be
[***LEdHR3A] [3A]Petitioner Akos
proved consistent with the
Swierkiewicz is a native of Hungary,
allegations. Hishon v. King &
who at the time of his complaint was
Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 81 L. Ed.
2d 59, 104 S. Ct. 2229. Petitioner's 53 years old. 1 In April 1989,
complaint easily satisfies Rule 8(a)'s petitioner began working for
requirements because it gives respondent Sorema N. A., a
respondent fair notice of the basis reinsurance company headquartered
for his claims and the grounds upon in New York and principally owned
which they rest. In addition, it and controlled by a French parent
states claims upon which relief could corporation. Petitioner was
be granted under Title VII and the initially employed in the position
ADEA. Thus, the complaint is of senior vice president and chief
sufficient to survive respondent's
motion to dismiss. Pp. 3-9.
underwriting officer (CUO). Nearly
six years later, Francois M.
5 Fed. Appx. 63, reversed and Chavel, respondent's Chief
remanded. Executive Officer, demoted
petitioner to a marketing and
COUNSEL: Harold I. Goodman argued the services position and transferred
cause for petitioner.
the bulk of his underwriting
Jeffrey P. Minear argued the cause for responsibilities to Nicholas
the United States, as amicus curiae, Papadopoulo, a 32-year-old who,
by special leave of court. [**996] like Mr. Chavel, is a
French national. About a year national origin in violation of
later, Mr. Chavel stated that he Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
wanted to "energize" the of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended,
underwriting department and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1994
appointed Mr. Papadopoulo as CUO. ed. and Supp. V), and on account
Petitioner claims that Mr. of his age in violation of the Age
Papadopoulo had only one year of Discrimination in Employment Act
underwriting experience at the of 1967 (ADEA), 81 Stat. 602, as
time he was promoted, and amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.
therefore was less experienced and (1994 ed. and Supp. V). App. 28.
less qualified to be CUO than he, The United States District Court
since at that point he had 26 for the Southern District of New
years of experience in the York dismissed petitioner's
insurance industry. complaint because it found that he
"had not adequately alleged a
[***LEdHR3B] [3B] prima facie case, in that he had
not adequately alleged
1 Because we review here a circumstances that support an
decision granting respondent's inference of discrimination." Id.
motion to dismiss, we must at 42. The United States Court of
accept as true all of the Appeals for the Second Circuit
factual allegations contained affirmed the dismissal, relying on
in the complaint. See, e.g., its settled precedent, which
Leatherman v. Tarrant County requires a plaintiff in an
Narcotics Intelligence and
employment discrimination
Coordination Unit, 507 U.S.
complaint to allege facts
163, 164, 122 L. Ed. 2d 517,
113 S. Ct. 1160 (1993). constituting a prima facie case of
discrimination under the framework
[*509] Following his set forth by this Court in
demotion, petitioner contends that McDonnell Douglas, supra, at 802.
he "was isolated by Mr. Chavel . . See, e.g., Tarshis v. Riese
. excluded from business decisions Organization, 211 F.3d 30, 35-36,
and meetings and denied the 38 (CA2 2000); Austin v. Ford
opportunity to reach his true Models, Inc., 149 F.3d 148, 152-
potential at SOREMA." App. 26. 153 (CA2 1998). The Court of
Petitioner unsuccessfully Appeals held that petitioner had
attempted to meet with Mr. Chavel failed to [***8] meet his burden
to discuss his discontent. because his allegations were
Finally, in April 1997, petitioner "insufficient as a matter of law
sent a memo to Mr. Chavel to raise an inference of
outlining his grievances and discrimination." 2001 U.S. App.
requesting a severance package. LEXIS 3837, 5 Fed. Appx. 63, 65
Two weeks later, respondent's (CA2 2001). We granted certiorari,
general counsel presented 533 U.S. 976, 150 L. Ed. 2d 805,
petitioner with two options: He 122 S. Ct. 23 (2001), to resolve a
could either resign without a split among the Courts [*510] of
severance package or be dismissed. Appeals concerning the proper
Mr. Chavel fired petitioner after pleading standard for employment
he refused to resign. discrimination cases, 2 and now
reverse.
Petitioner filed a lawsuit
alleging that he had been
2 The majority of Courts of
terminated on account of his
Appeals have held that a
plaintiff need not plead a that "the critical issue before us
prima facie case of concerned the order and allocation
discrimination under McDonnell of proof in a private, non-class
Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 action challenging employment
U.S. 792, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 discrimination." 411 U.S. at 800
S. Ct. 1817 (1973), in order (emphasis added). In subsequent
to survive a motion to cases, this Court has reiterated
dismiss. See, e.g., Sparrow v. that the prima facie case relates
United Air Lines, Inc., 342 to the employee's burden of
U.S. App. D.C. 268, 216 F.3d presenting evidence that raises an
1111, 1114 (CADC 2000); inference of discrimination. See
Bennett v. Schmidt, 153 F.3d Burdine, 450 U.S. at 252-253 ("In
516, 518 (CA7 1998); Ring v. [McDonnell Douglas,] we set forth
First Interstate Mortgage, the basic allocation of burdens
Inc., 984 F.2d 924 (CA8 1993). and order of presentation of proof
Others, however, maintain that in a Title VII case alleging
a complaint must contain discriminatory treatment. First,
factual allegations that the plaintiff has the burden of
support each element of a proving by the preponderance of
prima facie case. In addition the evidence a prima facie case of
to the case below, see Jackson [*511] discrimination" (footnotes
v. Columbus, 194 F.3d 737, 751 omitted)); 450 U.S. at 255, n. 8
(CA6 1999). ("This evidentiary relationship
II between the presumption created by
a prima facie case and the
[***LEdHR1B] [1B] [***LEdHR2B] consequential burden of production
[2B]Applying Circuit precedent, placed on the defendant is a
the Court of Appeals required traditional feature of the common
petitioner to plead a prima facie law").
case of discrimination in order to This Court has never indicated
survive respondent's motion to that the requirements for
dismiss. See 5 Fed. Appx. at 64- establishing a prima facie case
65. In the Court of Appeals' view, under McDonnell Douglas also apply
petitioner was thus required to to the pleading standard that
allege in his complaint: (1) plaintiffs must satisfy in order
membership in a protected group; to survive a motion to dismiss.
(2) qualification for the job in For instance, we have rejected the
question; (3) an adverse argument that a Title VII
employment action; and (4) complaint requires greater
circumstances that support an "particularity," because this
inference of discrimination. would "too narrowly constrict the
Ibid.; cf. McDonnell Douglas, 411 role of the pleadings." McDonald
U.S. at 802; Texas Dep't of v. Santa Fe Trail Transp. Co., 427
Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 273, 283, n. 11, 49 L. Ed. 2d
U.S. 248, 253-254, n. 6, 67 L. Ed. 493, 96 S. Ct. 2574 (1976).
2d 207, 101 S. Ct. 1089 (1981). Consequently, the ordinary rules
[**997] [***LEdHR1C] [1C]The for assessing the sufficiency of a
prima facie case under McDonnell complaint apply. See, e.g.,
Douglas, however, is an Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232,
evidentiary standard, not a 236, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct.
pleading requirement. In McDonnell 1683 (1974) ("When a [***9]
Douglas, this Court made clear federal court reviews the
sufficiency of a complaint, before (1978); see also McDonnell
the reception of any evidence Douglas, supra, at 802, n. 13
either by affidavit or admissions, ("The specification . . . of the
its task is necessarily a limited prima facie proof required from
one. The issue is not whether a respondent is not necessarily
plaintiff will ultimately prevail applicable in every respect to
but whether the claimant is differing factual situations");
entitled to offer evidence to Teamsters v. United States, 431
support the claims"). U.S. 324, 358, 52 L. Ed. 2d 396,
97 S. Ct. 1843 (1977) (noting that
In addition, under a notice this Court "did not purport to
pleading system, it is not create an inflexible formulation"
appropriate to require a plaintiff for a prima facie case); Ring v.
to plead facts establishing a First Interstate Mortgage, Inc.,
prima facie case because the 984 F.2d 924, 927 (CA8 1993) ("To
McDonnell Douglas framework does measure a plaintiff's complaint
not apply in every employment against a particular formulation
discrimination case. For instance, of the prima facie case at the
if a plaintiff is able to produce pleading stage is inappropriate").
direct evidence of discrimination, Before [**998] discovery has
he may prevail without proving all unearthed relevant facts and
the elements of a prima facie evidence, it may be difficult to
case. See Trans World Airlines, define the precise formulation of
Inc. v. Thurston, 469 U.S. 111, the required prima facie case in a
121, 83 L. Ed. 2d 523, 105 S. Ct. particular case. Given that the
613 (1985) ("The McDonnell Douglas
prima facie case operates as a
test is inapplicable where the
flexible evidentiary standard, it
plaintiff presents direct evidence
should not be transposed into a
of discrimination"). Under the
rigid pleading standard for
Second Circuit's heightened
discrimination cases.
pleading standard, a plaintiff
without direct evidence of
[***LEdHR1D] [1D] [***LEdHR4A]
discrimination at the time of his
[4A]Furthermore, imposing the
complaint must plead a prima facie
Court of Appeals' heightened
case of discrimination, even
pleading standard in employment
though discovery might uncover
discrimination cases conflicts
such direct evidence. It thus
with Federal Rule of Civil
seems incongruous to require a
Procedure 8(a)(2), which provides
plaintiff, in order to [*512]
that a complaint must include only
survive a motion to dismiss, to
"a short and plain statement of
plead more facts than he may
the claim showing that the pleader
ultimately need to prove to
is entitled to relief." Such a
succeed on the merits if direct
statement must simply "give the
evidence of discrimination is
defendant fair notice of what the
discovered.
plaintiff's claim is and the
Moreover, the precise grounds upon which it rests."
requirements of a prima facie case Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47,
can vary depending on the context 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99
and were "never intended to be (1957). This simplified notice
rigid, mechanized, or pleading standard relies on
ritualistic." Furnco Constr. Corp. liberal discovery rules and
v. Waters, 438 U.S. 567, 577, 57 summary judgment motions to define
L. Ed. 2d 957, 98 S. Ct. 2943 disputed facts and issues and to
dispose of unmeritorious claims. shall be stated with
See id. at 47-48; Leatherman v. particularity. Malice, intent,
Tarrant County Narcotics knowledge, and other condition
Intelligence [***10] and of mind of a person may be
Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, averred generally."
168-169, 122 L. Ed. 2d 517, 113 S. 4 These requirements are
Ct. 1160 (1993). "The provisions exemplified by the Federal
for discovery [*513] are so Rules of Civil Procedure
flexible and the provisions for Forms, which "are sufficient
pretrial procedure and summary under the rules and are
judgment so effective, that intended to indicate the
attempted surprise in federal simplicity and brevity of
practice is aborted very easily, statement which the rules
synthetic issues detected, and the contemplate." Fed. Rule Civ.
gravamen of the dispute brought Proc. 84. For example, Form 9
frankly into the open for the sets forth a complaint for
inspection of the court." 5 C. negligence in which plaintiff
Wright & A. Miller, Federal simply states in relevant
Practice and Procedure § 1202, p. part: "On June 1, 1936, in a
76 (2d ed. 1990). public highway called Boylston
Street in Boston,
[***LEdHR5] [5]Rule 8(a)'s
Massachusetts, defendant
simplified pleading standard
negligently drove a motor
applies to all civil actions, with
vehicle against plaintiff who
limited exceptions. Rule 9(b), for
was then crossing said
example, provides for greater
highway."
particularity in all averments of
fraud or mistake. 3 This Court,
however, has declined to extend [***LEdHR1E] [1E] [***LEdHR2C]
such exceptions to other contexts. [2C] [***LEdHR4B] [4B] [***LEdHR6]
In Leatherman we stated: "The [6]Other provisions of the Federal
Federal Rules do address in Rule Rules of Civil Procedure are
9(b) the question of the need for inextricably linked to Rule 8(a)'s
greater particularity in pleading simplified notice pleading
certain actions, but do not standard. Rule 8(e)(1) states that
include among the enumerated "no technical forms of pleading or
actions any reference to motions are required," and Rule
complaints alleging municipal 8(f) provides [*514] that "all
liability under § 1983. Expressio pleadings shall be so construed as
unius est exclusio alterius." 507 to do substantial justice." Given
U.S. at 168. Just as Rule 9(b) the Federal Rules' simplified
makes no mention of municipal standard for pleading, "[a] court
liability under Rev. Stat. § 1979, may dismiss a complaint only if it
42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1994 ed., Supp. is clear that no relief could be
V), neither does it refer to granted under any set of facts
employment discrimination. Thus, that could be proved consistent
complaints in these cases, as in with the allegations." Hishon v.
most others, must satisfy only the King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73,
simple requirements of Rule 8(a). 4 81 L. Ed. 2d 59, 104 S. Ct. 2229
(1984). If a pleading fails to
3 "In all averments of fraud specify the allegations in a
or mistake, the circumstances manner that provides sufficient
constituting fraud or mistake notice, a defendant can move for a
more definite statement under Rule suits. Brief for Respondent 34-40.
12(e) before responding. Moreover, Whatever [*515] the practical
claims lacking merit may be dealt merits of this argument, the
with through summary [**999] Federal Rules do not contain a
judgment under Rule 56. The heightened pleading standard for
liberal notice pleading of Rule employment discrimination suits. A
8(a) is the starting point of a requirement of greater specificity
simplified pleading system, which for particular claims is a result
was adopted to focus litigation on that "must be obtained by the
the merits of a claim. See Conley, process of amending the Federal
supra, at 48 ("The Federal Rules Rules, and not by judicial
reject the approach that pleading interpretation." Leatherman,
is a game of skill in which one supra, at 168. Furthermore, Rule
misstep by counsel may be decisive 8(a) establishes a pleading
to the outcome and accept the standard without regard to whether
principle that the purpose of a claim will succeed on the
pleading is to facilitate a proper merits. "Indeed it may appear on
decision on the merits"). the face of the pleadings that a
recovery is very remote and
[***11] [***LEdHR2D] unlikely but that is not the
[2D]Applying the relevant test." Scheuer, 416 U.S. at 236.
standard, petitioner's complaint
easily satisfies the requirements
[***LEdHR1G] [1G] [***LEdHR2E]
of Rule 8(a) because it gives
[2E]For the foregoing reasons, we
respondent fair notice of the
hold that an employment
basis for petitioner's claims.
discrimination plaintiff need not
Petitioner alleged that he had
plead a prima facie case of
been terminated on account of his
discrimination and that
national origin in violation of
petitioner's complaint is
Title VII and on account of his
sufficient to survive respondent's
age in violation of the ADEA. App.
motion to dismiss. Accordingly,
28. His complaint detailed the
the judgment of the Court of
events leading to his termination,
Appeals is reversed, and the case
provided relevant dates, and
is remanded for further
included the ages and
proceedings consistent with this
nationalities of at least some of
opinion.
the relevant persons involved with
his termination. Id. at 24-28. It is so ordered.
These allegations give respondent
fair notice of what petitioner's REFERENCES
claims are and the grounds upon
which they rest. See Conley,
supra, at 47. In addition, they
state claims upon which relief 45C Am Jur 2d, Job Discrimination
could be granted under Title VII 2508, 2509, 2514, 2521-2525, 2528-
and the ADEA. 2531, 2539, 2540, 2555, 2733-2735,
2738-2740
[***LEdHR1F] [1F] [***LEdHR7]
[7]Respondent argues that allowing 29 USCS 621 et seq.; 42 USCS 2000e
lawsuits based on conclusory et seq.; USCS Court Rules, Federal
allegations of discrimination to Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 8
go forward will burden the courts
and encourage disgruntled L Ed Digest, Evidence 383;
employees to bring unsubstantiated
Pleading 103, 179 1981 [42 USCS 1981], Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C.A.
L Ed Index, Age Discrimination; 2000e(a)(1) [42 USCS 2000e(a)
Job Discrimination; Pleadings; (1)]), and Americans with
Rules of Civil Procedure Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C.A.
12112(a) [42 USCS 12112(a)]). 172
Annotation ALR Fed 465.
References:
What constitutes direct evidence
Supreme Court's construction and of age discrimination in action
application of Rules 8 and 9 of under Age Discrimination in
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Employment Act (29 U.S.C.A. 621 et
concerning general rules of seq. [29 USCS 621 et seq.])--post-
pleading and pleading special Price Waterhouse cases. 155 ALR
matters. 122 L Ed 2d 897. Fed 283.

Supreme Court's construction of Proving that discharge was because


Civil Rights Act of 1871 (42 USCS of age, for purposes of Age
1983) providing private right of Discrimination in Employment Act
action for violation of federal (29 USCS 621 et seq.). 58 ALR Fed
rights. 43 L Ed 2d 833. 94.

Requirement of replacement by Construction and application of


nonprotected individual to Age Discrimination in Employment
establish prima facie employment Act of 1967 (29 USCS 621 et seq.).
discrimination under 42 U.S.C.A. 24 ALR Fed 808.