O'Connor v. Consolidated Coin Caterers Corp., 517 U.S. 308, 4 (1996)

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 308 (1996)

Opinion of the Court

411 U. S., at 802. Once the plaintiff has met this initial burden, the burden of production shifts to the employer "to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's rejection." Ibid. If the trier of fact finds that the elements of the prima facie case are supported by a preponderance of the evidence and the employer remains silent, the court must enter judgment for the plaintiff. St. Mary's Honor Center, supra, at 509-510, and n. 3; Texas Dept. of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U. S. 248, 254 (1981).

In assessing claims of age discrimination brought under the ADEA, the Fourth Circuit, like others,2 has applied some variant of the basic evidentiary framework set forth in Mc-Donnell Douglas. We have never had occasion to decide whether that application of the Title VII rule to the ADEA context is correct, but since the parties do not contest that point, we shall assume it. Cf. St. Mary's Honor Center, supra, at 506, n. 1 (assuming that "the McDonnell Douglas framework is fully applicable to racial-discrimination-in-employment claims under 42 U. S. C. 1983"). On that assumption, the question presented for our determination is what elements must be shown in an ADEA case to establish the prima facie case that triggers the employer's burden of production.

As the very name "prima facie case" suggests, there must be at least a logical connection between each element of the prima facie case and the illegal discrimination for which it

2 See, e. g., Roper v. Peabody Coal Co., 47 F. 3d 925, 926-927 (CA7 1995); Rinehart v. Independence, 35 F. 3d 1263, 1265 (CA8 1994), cert. denied, 514 U. S. 1096 (1995); Seman v. Coplay Cement Co., 26 F. 3d 428, 432, n. 7 (CA3 1994); Roush v. KFC Nat. Mgt. Co., 10 F. 3d 392, 396 (CA6 1993), cert. denied, 513 U. S. 808 (1994); Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 987 F. 2d 324, 326, n. 5 (CA5 1993); Goldstein v. Manhattan Industries, Inc., 758 F. 2d 1435, 1442 (CA11), cert. denied, 474 U. S. 1005 (1985); Haskell v. Kaman Corp., 743 F. 2d 113, 119, and n. 1 (CA2 1984); Cuddy v. Carmen, 694 F. 2d 853, 856-857 (CADC 1982); Douglas v. Anderson, 656 F. 2d 528, 531-532 (CA9 1981); Loeb v. Textron, Inc., 600 F. 2d 1003, 1014-1016 (CA1 1979); Schwager v. Sun Oil Co. of Pa., 591 F. 2d 58, 60-61 (CA10 1979).

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