It is a truism that employers prefer to win discrimination cases on summary judgment rather than go to trial. In most cases, winning on summary judgment means convincing the judge there is not enough evidence that would allow the plaintiff to prove “pretext.” (Pretext: “a purpose or motive alleged or an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). With pretext, the plaintiff goes to trial; without pretext, the plaintiff goes home and the employer wins.
As we have written here many times, summary judgment is an important tool for defendants in employment discrimination cases. Studies have shown that in federal court, summary judgment is granted to defendants in employment discrimination cases more than in any other type of case. These studies confirm the experience of most employment lawyers who try cases, whether they represent mostly plaintiffs or mostly defendants.