30 F.3d 524 (4th Cir. 1994), 93-1732, Beardsley v. Webb

Docket Nº:93-1732, 93-1747.
Citation:30 F.3d 524
Party Name:Lisa M. BEARDSLEY, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. John WEBB, Defendant-Appellant, and John R. ISOM, Sheriff of Loudoun County, individually and in his official capacity, Defendant. Lisa M. BEARDSLEY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. John R. ISOM, Sheriff of Loudoun County, individually and in his official capacity; John Webb, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:July 26, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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Page 524

30 F.3d 524 (4th Cir. 1994)

Lisa M. BEARDSLEY, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

John WEBB, Defendant-Appellant,

and

John R. ISOM, Sheriff of Loudoun County, individually and in

his official capacity, Defendant.

Lisa M. BEARDSLEY, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

John R. ISOM, Sheriff of Loudoun County, individually and in

his official capacity; John Webb, Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 93-1732, 93-1747.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

July 26, 1994

Argued Feb. 7, 1994.

Page 525

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 526

ARGUED: John J. Brandt, Slenker, Brandt, Jennings & Johnston, Merrifield, VA, for appellants. John Michael Bredehoft, Charlson & Bredehoft, P.C., Fairfax, VA, for appellee. ON BRIEF: Robert S. Corish, Slenker, Brandt, Jennings & Johnston, Merrifield, Virginia, for Appellants. Elaine C. Bredehoft, Charlson & Bredehoft, P.C., Fairfax, VA, for appellee.

Before PHILLIPS, Circuit Judge, BUTZNER, Senior Circuit Judge, and YOUNG, Senior United States District Judge for the District of Maryland, sitting by designation.

Affirmed by published opinion. Senior Judge BUTZNER wrote the opinion, in which Judge PHILLIPS and Senior Judge YOUNG joined.

OPINION

BUTZNER, Senior Circuit Judge:

The principal issue in this appeal is whether provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 for trial by jury to recover compensatory and punitive damages make Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the exclusive remedy for claims of employment discrimination brought by public employees. See 42 U.S.C. Secs. 1981a(a)-(b) (damages) and (c) (jury) (Supp. IV 1992). The district court held that Title VII was not the exclusive remedy for employment discrimination claims, 828 F.Supp. 397. It allowed Lisa M. Beardsley, a former employee of the Loudoun County, Virginia, sheriff's office, to maintain her 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 action against her supervisor, John Webb, and Sheriff John R. Isom. From a judgment entered on the jury's verdict awarding damages to Beardsley for discrimination Webb appeals. Beardsley cross-appeals the court's summary dismissal of her other claims against Webb and Isom. Finding no reversible error among the many assigned, we affirm.

I

Webb contends that provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 that allow the recovery of damages and provide for trial by jury establish that Title VII is the sole remedy for sexual harassment. Consequently, he argues, the 1991 Act precludes Beardsley from bringing an action under Sec. 1983 and the district court erred by denying his motion to

Page 527

dismiss. He asserts that Congress intended the Act to provide sufficient remedies because its stated purpose is to provide "appropriate remedies" for unlawful harassment. Pub.L. No. 102-166, Sec. 3 (codified at 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981, note (Supp. IV 1992)). He also points out that the Act explicitly does not limit Sec. 1981 but is silent with respect to any limitation of Sec. 1983. See 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981a(b)(4) (Supp. IV 1992). This omission, he claims, makes it reasonable to assume that the Act precludes suits for sexual harassment under Sec. 1983.

This and other circuits have long recognized that prior to 1991 Congress did not intend Title VII to be the sole remedy for a public employee's claim of employment discrimination. The reasons for concluding that Congress preserved a cause of action under Sec. 1983 have often been explained; they need not be repeated here. See Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 48-49, 94 S.Ct. 1011, 1019-20, 39 L.Ed.2d 147 (1974); Keller v. Prince George's County, 827 F.2d 952, 956-63 (4th Cir.1987). In light of appellate case law that Title VII and Sec. 1983 co-exist to afford relief for employment discrimination, it is quite unlikely that Congress implicitly intended the 1991 Act to bar claimants from seeking relief under Sec. 1983. It is more reasonable to presume that Congress intended both avenues of relief to remain open. See Lorillard v. Pons, 434 U.S. 575, 580, 98 S.Ct. 866, 869, 55 L.Ed.2d 40 (1978).

We are unable to accept Webb's argument that Congress intended Title VII to be a sufficient remedy for employment discrimination. The purpose of the Act to provide "appropriate" remedies must be read along with the congressional finding that "additional remedies under Federal law are needed to deter unlawful harassment and intentional discrimination in the workplace." Pub.L. No. 102-166, Sec. 2 (codified as 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981, note (Supp. IV 1992)). It would be perverse to conclude that the Congress that provided additional remedies simultaneously intended silently to extinguish the remedy that Sec. 1983 has provided for many years.

Also misplaced is Webb's contrast of the savings clause for Sec. 1981 with the absence of a similar clause for Sec. 1983 to buttress his claim that Congress implicitly abolished remedies that Sec. 1983 had previously afforded. The 1991 Act overruled Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164, 109 S.Ct. 2363, 105 L.Ed.2d 132 (1989), which limited Sec. 1981 by excluding from its scope conduct that occurs after the formation of a contract. 491 U.S. at 175-85, 109 S.Ct. at 2371-77; see 42 U.S.C. Secs. 1981(b) and (c) (Supp. IV 1992). Congressional concern with the scope of relief underSec. 1981 does not establish that Congress intended to limit the scope of relief under Sec. 1983. See Stoner v. Department of Agriculture, 846 F.Supp. 738, 740-41 (W.D. Wis.1994).

Webb's argument that the remedies the 1991 Act added to Title VII obviate the need for the remedies afforded by Sec. 1983 is based on a flawed premise. Title VII and Sec. 1983 are not co-extensive in every respect. For example, Title VII does not apply to employers with less than 15 employees. 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e(b). Section 1983 contains no similar limitation.

In Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., the Court observed:

[T]he legislative history of Title VII manifests a congressional intent to allow an individual to pursue independently his rights under both Title VII and other applicable state and federal statutes. The clear inference is that Title VII was designed to supplement, rather than supplant, existing laws and institutions relating to employment discrimination.

415 U.S. at 48-49, 94 S.Ct. at 1019-20 (citation omitted). Nothing in the text of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 or in its legislative history...

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