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Mixed-Motive Cases: A Review of Three Competing Standards

Oct 03, 2023

What’s the difference between a “motivating factor,” “substantial motivating factor,” and “but-for” causation?

This is not the set up for a joke. It’s a complicated legal principle that gets more confusing when looking at a particular case through the lenses of applicable state and federal laws. It becomes even trickier when the underlying facts of a particular case may show that employment-related actions are the result of multiple motivating factors.

A recent California case, Goodson v. County of Plumas, provides some helpful guidance about where the line falls between these causation standards in mixed-motive cases under applicable state and federal laws, including California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

To learn more, you can check out the article, “Mixed-Motive Cases: A Review of Three Competing Standards,” co-authored by Danielle Drossel and Ilona Turner for The Recorder (subscription required).