Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa, 539 U.S. 90, 2 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 90 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

strat[e] that [it] would have taken the same action in the absence of the impermissible motivating factor" in order to take advantage of the partial affirmative defense. Due to the similarity in structure between that provision and 2000e-2(m), it would be logical to assume that the term "demonstrates" would carry the same meaning with respect to both provisions. But when pressed at oral argument about whether direct evidence is required before the partial affirmative defense can be invoked, petitioner did not "agree that . . . the defendant or the employer has any heightened standard" to satisfy. Tr. of Oral Arg. 7. Absent some congressional indication to the contrary, we decline to give the same term in the same Act a different meaning depending on whether the rights of the plaintiff or the defendant are at issue. See Commissioner v. Lundy, 516 U. S. 235, 250 (1996) ("The interrelationship and close proximity of these provisions of the statute 'presents a classic case for application of the "normal rule of statutory construction that identical words used in different parts of the same act are intended to have the same meaning" ' " (quoting Sullivan v. Stroop, 496 U. S. 478, 484 (1990))).

For the reasons stated above, we agree with the Court of Appeals that no heightened showing is required under 2000e-2(m).3

* * *

In order to obtain an instruction under 2000e-2(m), a plaintiff need only present sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude, by a preponderance of the evidence, that "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was a motivating factor for any employment practice." Because direct evidence of discrimination is not required in mixed-motive

3 Of course, in light of our conclusion that direct evidence is not required under 2000e-2(m), we need not address the second question on which we granted certiorari: "What are the appropriate standards for lower courts to follow in making a direct evidence determination in 'mixed-motive' cases under Title VII?" Pet. for Cert. i.


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