Lee Reeves


This Article has five parts. After considering empirical evidence, Part I concludes that judges' political ideology plays only a limited role in their decisionmaking. Part II identifies the increase in case filings over the last two decades as a likely non-ideological cause of the increased judicial skepticism towards claims of employment discrimination. This Part begins by examining aggregate trends in the district and appellate caseload and then translates caseload into the more meaningful metric of workload. Part II next evaluates various steps courts have taken to handle these workload increases. Finally, Part II concludes with a discussion of why employment discrimination claims are particularly taxing on the lower federal courts. Part III identifies two factors that appear to influence how receptive a given circuit is towards claims of employment discrimination: overall workload and the number of employment filings. This Part then examines the relative workloads of the courts of appeals and the district courts within a given circuit, as well as the number of employment discrimination filings across the circuits. Part III concludes that there are vast differences between the circuits in terms of both of these factors. Parts IV and V compare the various approaches that the circuits have taken to some of the issues that commonly arise in employment discrimination cases. Together, these parts conclude that a circuit's interpretation of relevant statutory and procedural provisions correlates with its workload and the number of employment filings it handles. More precisely, these sections demonstrate that on balance, circuits with heavier workloads and greater numbers of employment discrimination filings have interpreted substantive law and procedural rules in a manner that is less receptive to employment discrimination claimants than have their counterparts in circuits with lesser workloads and fewer employment discrimination filings. The Article concludes with a few brief observations about the significance of the recent volume of employment discrimination claims as well as the prospect of reform.

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