The Supreme Court decided two landmark cases, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, that interpreted Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(b)’s pleading requirement. The Court shifted from a notice pleading standard to one that requires more factual substantiation of claims before allowing discovery. This has important ramifications in the area of employment discrimination, as courts dismiss these claims disproportionately. If the Supreme Court’s new pleading standard is read to allow more judicial subjectivity, it could bar employment discrimination plaintiffs from access to courts. Lower courts often misconstrue the legal standard for a hostile work environment, thereby resulting in the disposition of meritorious claims. This Note explores two different interpretations of the new pleading standards, one where judicial discretion is unbridled and the other where strong limitations on discretion still exist. For the welfare of hostile work environment discrimination victims, lower courts should apply the latter interpretation.
Twombly and Iqbal : Effects on Hostile Work Environment Claims,
B.C.J.L. & Soc. Just.