Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.a., 00-1853

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtThomas
Citation534 U.S. 506,122 S.Ct. 992,152 L.Ed.2d 1
Decision Date26 February 2002
Docket Number00-1853
Parties AKOS SWIERKIEWICZ, PETITIONER v. SOREMA, N.A.SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

534 U.S. 506
122 S.Ct. 992
152 L.Ed.2d 1

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.

AKOS SWIERKIEWICZ, PETITIONER
v.
SOREMA, N.A.

No. 00-1853.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Argued January 15, 2002
Decided February 26, 2002

Syllabus

Petitioner, a 53-year-old native of Hungary, filed this suit against respondent, his former employer, alleging that he had been fired on account of his national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and on account of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). In affirming the District Court's dismissal of the complaint, the Second Circuit relied on its settled precedent requiring an employment discrimination complaint to allege facts constituting a prima facie case of discrimination under the framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802. The court held that petitioner had failed to meet his burden because his allegations were insufficient as a matter of law to raise an inference of discrimination.

Held: An employment discrimination complaint need not contain specific facts establishing a prima facie case under the McDonnell Douglas framework, but instead must contain only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2). The McDonnell Douglas framework-which requires the plaintiff to show (1) membership in a protected group, (2) qualification for the job in question, (3) an adverse employment action, and (4) circumstances supporting an inference of discrimination-is an evidentiary standard, not a pleading requirement. See, e.g., 411 U.S., at 800. The Court has never indicated that the requirements for establishing a prima facie case apply to pleading. Moreover, the McDonnell Douglas framework does not apply where, for example, a plaintiff is able to produce direct evidence of discrimination. See Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Thurston, 469 U.S. 111, 121. Under the Second Circuit's heightened pleading standard, however, a plaintiff without direct evidence at the time of his complaint must plead a prima facie case of discrimination even though discovery might uncover such direct evidence. It seems incongruous to require a plaintiff, in order to survive a motion to dismiss, to plead more facts than he may ultimately need to prove to succeed on the merits if direct evidence of discrimination is discovered. Moreover, the precise requirements of the prima facie case can vary with the context and were "never intended to be rigid, mechanized, or ritualistic." Furnco Constr. Corp. v. Waters, 438 U.S. 567, 577. It may be difficult to define the precise formulation of the required prima facie case in a particular case before discovery has unearthed relevant facts and evidence. Consequently, the prima facie case should not be transposed into a rigid pleading standard for discrimination cases. Imposing the Second Circuit's heightened standard conflicts with Rule 8(a)'s express language, which requires simply that the complaint "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47. A court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73. Petitioner's complaint easily satisfies Rule 8(a)'s requirements because it gives respondent fair notice of the basis for his claims and the grounds upon which they rest. In addition, it states claims upon which relief could be granted under Title VII and the ADEA. Thus, the complaint is sufficient to survive respondent's motion to dismiss. Pp. 3-9.

5 Fed. Appx. 63, reversed and remanded.

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

Thomas, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Opinion of the Court

Justice Thomas delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether a complaint in an employment discrimination...

To continue reading

Request your trial
12070 practice notes
  • Harris v. Koenig, Civil Action No. 02-618 (GK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 12, 2009
    ...to dismiss [the complaint] without giving plaintiffs an opportunity to overcome the presumption"); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 510-14, 122 S.Ct. 992, 152 L.Ed.2d 1 (2002) (presumptions are evidentiary standards that should not be applied to motions to 22. It should b......
  • Jones v. Int'l Ass'n of Bridge Structural Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers, Case No. 10–C–560.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • March 28, 2012
    ...early 2009 to obtain a home-equity loan). This is all she needs to put in the complaint.” Id. at 405 (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 511–512, 122 S.Ct. 992, 152 L.Ed.2d 1 (U.S.2002)). Thus, in this case, the plaintiff sufficiently stated a claim under either Title VII or ......
  • Quiroga v. Graves, 1:16-cv-00234-DAD-GSA-PC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • March 15, 2018
    ...applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to rel......
  • Stevens v. Town of Snow Hill, No. 4:19-CV-156-D
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • June 8, 2021
    ...7-9. A Title VII plaintiff is not required to plead a prima facie case to survive a motion to dismiss. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 510-15 (2002). Nonetheless, Swierkiewicz "leftPage 18 untouched the burden of a plaintiff to allege facts sufficient to state all the elemen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12049 cases
  • Harris v. Koenig, Civil Action No. 02-618 (GK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 12, 2009
    ...to dismiss [the complaint] without giving plaintiffs an opportunity to overcome the presumption"); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 510-14, 122 S.Ct. 992, 152 L.Ed.2d 1 (2002) (presumptions are evidentiary standards that should not be applied to motions to 22. It should b......
  • Jones v. Int'l Ass'n of Bridge Structural Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers, Case No. 10–C–560.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • March 28, 2012
    ...early 2009 to obtain a home-equity loan). This is all she needs to put in the complaint.” Id. at 405 (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 511–512, 122 S.Ct. 992, 152 L.Ed.2d 1 (U.S.2002)). Thus, in this case, the plaintiff sufficiently stated a claim under either Title VII or ......
  • Quiroga v. Graves, 1:16-cv-00234-DAD-GSA-PC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • March 15, 2018
    ...applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to rel......
  • Stevens v. Town of Snow Hill, No. 4:19-CV-156-D
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • June 8, 2021
    ...7-9. A Title VII plaintiff is not required to plead a prima facie case to survive a motion to dismiss. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 510-15 (2002). Nonetheless, Swierkiewicz "leftPage 18 untouched the burden of a plaintiff to allege facts sufficient to state all the elemen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Deterrence and Detection of Cartels: Using all the Tools and Sanctions
    • United States
    • Antitrust Bulletin Nbr. 56-2, June 2011
    • June 1, 2011
    ...islargely in the hands of the alleged conspirators, and hostile witnesses thickenthe plot.”).76 See generally Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002)(interpreting Rule 8(a)(2)); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957) (same).77 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Any......
  • DETERMINATION OF THE U.S. PLEADING FROM THE CIVIL LAW PERSPECTIVE.
    • United States
    • Washington University Global Studies Law Review Vol. 21 Nbr. 2, March 2022
    • March 22, 2022
    ...discovery, and limited summary judgment," the "interdependent elements of the pretrial process"). See also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002) (focusing on the role of the summary judgment in regulating "the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any materi......
  • POLITICS, IDENTITY, AND PLEADING DECISIONS ON THE U.S. COURTS OF APPEALS.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 169 Nbr. 8, August 2021
    • August 1, 2021
    ...Puzzling Persistence of Fact Pleading, 76 TEX. L. REV. 1749, 1750 (1998). (23) See id. at 1751-52. (24) See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 515 (2002); Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168 (1993). See also Crawford-El v. Bri......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT