Publication Date



In McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, the U.S. Supreme
Court developed a framework to assist courts in assessing
individual disparate treatment claims based on
circumstantial evidence. Under that test, plaintiffs alleging
discrimination under Title VII must first show a prima facie
case of discrimination. Since McDonnell Douglas, courts have
modified the test by requiring plaintiffs to demonstrate that
they were treated less favorably than a similarly situated
comparator employee who is outside the plaintiff’s protected
class. Courts disagree, however, on what it means for
employees to be similarly situated. Some courts strictly
interpret the similarly situated requirement; others caution
against an overly mechanical approach and employ a flexible
standard instead. As a result, a plaintiff could successfully
plead a prima facie case of discrimination in one federal
circuit but fail in another. To resolve this disparity, this Note
proposes that the U.S. Supreme Court adopt the Seventh
Circuit’s standard for comparator evidence due to its
consistency with the Court’s precedent, its cohesion with the
purposes underlying Title VII, and its practical benefits for
plaintiffs alleging a prima facie case of employment