(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this workplace harassment/sex discrimination case and its proceedings.)
Once a prima facie case of discrimination is established, the burden is on the employer to offer a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. Id. To accomplish this, the [employer] must clearly set forth, through the introduction of admissible evidence, the reasons for the [employee’s] rejection. Sada v. Robert F. Kennedy Medical Center, 56 Cal.App.4th at 148; Caldwell v. Paramount Unified School District. 41 Cal.App.4th 189, 202-03 (1995).
If the employer meets its burden of proffering legitimate reasons for the adverse action, then the burden shifts back to the employee to show pretext. See University of So. Calif., 222 Cal.App.3d at 1036. A plaintiff can show pretext in two ways: (1) indirectly by showing that the employer’s proffered reason for termination is unworthy of credence because it is internally inconsistent or otherwise not believable, or (2) directly, by showing that unlawful discrimination more likely motivated the employer, or (3) a combination of both (1) and (2). Chuang, 225 F.3d at 1123; Hersant v. California Department of Social Services. 57 Cal.App.4th 997, 1004-05 (1997).
As a general matter, the plaintiff in an employment discrimination action need produce very little evidence in order to overcome an employer’s motion for summary judgment. Chuang, 225 F.3d at 1123. The U.S. Supreme Court made clear that a plaintiff’s prima facie case, combined with sufficient evidence to reject the employer’s reason for the termination, is sufficient to sustain a finding of liability for discrimination. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products. Inc., (2000) 530 U.S. 133, 148.
The Supreme Court stated that after the prima facie case has been established, merely the rejection of the defendant’s proffered reason will permit the trier of fact to infer the ultimate fact of discrimination. Id. at 147 (citing St. Mary’s Honor Center v. Hicks. (1993)509 U.S. 502, 511. (See Part 11 of 19.)
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