Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A.

534 U.S. 506 (2002)


Swierkiewicz (P) was 53 years old. In April 1989, P began working for Sorema N. A., (D). Nearly six years later, D demoted P to a marketing and services position and transferred the bulk of his underwriting responsibilities to Nicholas Papadopoulo, a 32-year-old. P claims that Mr. Papadopoulo had only one year of underwriting experience at the time he was promoted, and therefore was less experienced and less qualified to be CUO than he, since at that point he had 26 years of experience in the insurance industry. Eventually, D was told he could either resign without a severance package or be dismissed. P was fired after he refused to resign. P filed a lawsuit alleging that he had been terminated 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). The District Court dismissed P's complaint because it found that he 'had not adequately alleged a prima facie case, in that he had not adequately alleged circumstances that support an inference of discrimination.' The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal, relying on its settled precedent, which requires a plaintiff in an employment discrimination complaint to allege facts constituting a prima facie case of discrimination under the framework set forth by this Court in McDonnell Douglas. The Court of Appeals 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.'