The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently held that the question of whether a plaintiff in a discrimination suit made out a prima facie case under McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 793 (1973), "is almost always irrelevant" when the district court considers an employer’s motion for summary judgment or decides a case at trial. See Brady v. Office of Sergeant at Arms, Case No. 06-5362 (March 28, 2008). Typically, under McDonnell Douglas, which sets forth the burden of proof for Title VII cases, a plaintiff must establish a prima facie (at first glance) case by showing that he/she was treated worse than someone not in his/her protected class before the burden shifts to the employer to set forth its reason for the challenged action. The D.C. Circuit, however, called the prima case "a largely unnecessary sideshow" that wastes litigant and judicial resources.
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