CACI 2507 “Substantial Motivating Reason” Explained
California Civil Jury Instructions CACI
2507 “Substantial Motivating Reason” Explained
A “substantial motivating reason” is a reason that actually contributed to the [specify adverse employment action]. It must be more than a remote or trivial reason. It does not have to be the only reason motivating the [adverse employment action].
New December 2007; Revised June 2013
Directions for Use
Read this instruction with CACI No. 2500, Disparate Treatment—Essential Factual Elements, CACI No. 2505, Retaliation—Essential Factual Elements, CACI No. 2540, Disability Discrimination—Disparate Treatment—Essential Factual Elements, CACI No. 2560, Religious Creed Discrimination—Failure to Accommodate—Essential Factual Elements, or CACI No. 2570, Age Discrimination—Disparate Treatment—Essential Factual Elements.
Sources and Authority
•Discrimination Prohibited Under Fair Employment and Housing Act. Government Code section 12940(a).
•Causation Under Federal Law. Title 42 United States Code section 2000e-2(m).
•“Substantial Motivating Factor” Explained. Title 2 California Code of Regulations section 11009(c).
•“Because of the similarity between state and federal employment discrimination laws, California courts look to pertinent federal precedent when applying our own statutes.” (Guz v. Bechtel National, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 317, 354 [100 Cal.Rptr.2d 352, 8 P.3d 1089].)
•“While a complainant need not prove that [discriminatory] animus was the sole motivation behind a challenged action, he must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there was a ‘causal connection’ between the employee’s protected status and the adverse employment decision.” (Mixon v. Fair Employment and Housing Com. (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1306, 1319 [237 Cal.Rptr. 884].)
•“The employee need not show ‘he would have in any event been rejected or discharged solely on the basis of his race, without regard to the alleged deficiencies. …’ In other words, ‘while a complainant need not prove that racial animus was the sole motivation behind the challenged action, he must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there was a “causal connection” between the employee’s protected status and the adverse employment decision.’ ” (Clark v. Claremont University Center (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 639, 665 [8 Cal.Rptr.2d 151], citing McDonald v. Santa Fe Trail Transp. Co. (1976) 427 U.S. 273, 282, fn. 10 [96 S.Ct. 2574, 49 L.Ed.2d 493, 502] and Mixon, supra, 192 Cal.App.3d at p. 1319.)
•“Requiring the plaintiff to show that discrimination was a substantial motivating factor, rather than simply a motivating factor, more effectively ensures that liability will not be imposed based on evidence of mere thoughts or passing statements unrelated to the disputed employment decision. At the same time, … proof that discrimination was a substantial factor in an employment decision triggers the deterrent purpose of the FEHA and thus exposes the employer to liability, even if other factors would have led the employer to make the same decision at the time.” (Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56 Cal.4th 203, 232 [152 Cal.Rptr.3d 392, 294 P.3d 49], original italics.)
•“We do not suggest that discrimination must be alone sufficient to bring about an employment decision in order to constitute a substantial motivating factor. But it is important to recognize that discrimination can be serious, consequential, and even by itself determinative of an employment decision without also being a “but for” cause.” (Harris, supra, 56 Cal.4th at p. 229.)
•“Although [plaintiff] contends that a jury in an employment discrimination case would not draw any meaningful distinction between ‘a motivating reason’ and ‘a substantial motivating reason’ in deciding whether there was unlawful discrimination, the Supreme Court reached a contrary conclusion in Harris [supra]. The court specifically concluded that ‘[r]equiring the plaintiff to show that discrimination was a substantial motivating factor, rather than simply a motivating factor, more effectively ensures that liability will not be imposed based on evidence of mere thoughts or passing statements unrelated to the disputed employment decision.’ ” (Alamo v. Practice Management Information Corp. (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 466, 479 [161 Cal.Rptr.3d 758].)