“Convincing Mosaic” Not Required In 7th Circuit
Published: October 28, 2016
Since its 1994, decision in Troupe v. May Department Stores Co., 20 F.3d 734 (7th Cir. 1994), the Seventh Circuit has instructed the district courts within its boundaries (including those in Illinois) to look for evidence that creates “a convincing mosaic of discrimination” in considering summary judgment motions in employment discrimination cases. After more than a decade of inconsistencies and criticisms of this approach, the Seventh Circuit has now abandoned this approach with its decision in the case Ortiz v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., decided August 19, 2016. The Seventh Circuit ruled that the sole test that should be applied in considering summary judgment motions in employment discrimination cases, “is simply whether the evidence would permit a reasonable fact finder to conclude that the Plaintiff’s race, ethnicity, sex, religion or other prescribed factor caused the discharge or other adverse employment action.” The Seventh Circuit’s ruling appears to be an attempt to bring some certainty to the summary judgment process in employment discrimination claims by abandoning the vague and inconsistent “convincing mosaic” approach.
Werner Enterprises is a shipping company that provides freight brokerage services to its customers. Brokers for Werner would be responsible for finding a carrier for any customer’s load and then putting that shipment into the proprietary system maintained by Werner. Brokers were compensated through a base salary but would also earn a commission if they could generate a profit for Werner, i.e., locating carriers for the load who would charge less than Werner would charge the customer for moving the freight.
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