456 U.S. 512 (1982), 80-986, North Haven Bd. of Educ. v. Bell

Docket Nº:No. 80-986
Citation:456 U.S. 512, 102 S.Ct. 1912, 72 L.Ed.2d 299
Party Name:North Haven Bd. of Educ. v. Bell
Case Date:May 17, 1982
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 512

456 U.S. 512 (1982)

102 S.Ct. 1912, 72 L.Ed.2d 299

North Haven Bd. of Educ.

v.

Bell

No. 80-986

United States Supreme Court

May 17, 1982

Argued December 9, 1981

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR

THE SECOND CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Section 901(a) of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 provides that "no person," on the basis of sex, shall

be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Section 902 authorizes each agency awarding federal financial assistance to any education program to promulgate regulations ensuring that aid recipients adhere to § 901(a), and as a sanction for noncompliance provides for termination of federal funds limited to the particular program, or part thereof, in which such noncompliance has been found. Pursuant to § 902, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), interpreting "person" in § 901(a) to encompass employees as well as students, issued regulations (Subpart E) prohibiting federally funded education programs from discriminating on the basis of sex with respect to employment. Petitioners, federally funded public school boards, when threatened with enforcement proceedings for alleged violations of § 901(a) with respect to board employees, brought separate suits challenging HEW's authority to issue the Subpart E regulations on the alleged ground that § 901(a) was not intended to apply to employment practices, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The District Court in each case granted the school board's motion for summary judgment. In a consolidated appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that § 901(a) was intended to prohibit employment discrimination and that the Subpart E regulations were consistent with § 902.

Held:

1. Employment discrimination comes within Title IX's prohibition. Pp. 520-535.

[102 S.Ct. 1914] (a) While § 901(a) does not expressly include employees within its scope or expressly exclude them, its broad directive that "no person" may be discriminated against on the basis of gender, on its face, includes employees as well as students. Pp. 520-522.

(b) Title IX's legislative history corroborates the conclusion that employment discrimination was intended to come within its prohibition. Pp. 523-530.

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(c) Title IX's postenactment history provides additional evidence of Congress' desire to ban employment discrimination in federally financed education programs. Pp. 530-535.

2. The Subpart E regulations are valid. Pp. 535 540.

(a) An agency's authority under Title IX both to promulgate regulations and to terminate funds is subject to the program-specific limitation of §§ 901(a) and 902. The Subpart E regulations are not inconsistent with this restriction. Pp. 535-539.

(b) But whether termination of petitioners' federal funds is permissible under Title IX is a question that must be answered by the District Court in the first instance. Pp. 539-540.

629 F.2d 773, affirmed and remanded.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 540.

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BLACKMUN, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.

At issue here is the validity of regulations promulgated by the Department of Education pursuant to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Pub.L. 92-318, 86 Stat. 373, as amended, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. These regulations prohibit federally funded education programs from discriminating on the basis of gender with respect to employment.

I

Title IX proscribes gender discrimination in education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. Patterned after Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub.L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 252, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. (1976 ed. and Supp. IV), Title IX, as amended, contains two core provisions. The first is a "program-specific" prohibition of gender discrimination:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. . . .

§ 901(a), 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a). Nine statutory exceptions to § 901(a)'s coverage follow. See §§ 901(a)(1)-(9).1

The second core provision relates to enforcement. Section 902, 20 U.S.C. § 1682, authorizes each agency awarding federal financial assistance to any education program to promulgate regulations ensuring that aid recipients adhere to § 901(a)'s mandate. The ultimate sanction for noncompliance is termination of

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federal funds or denial of future grants.2 Like § 901, § 902 is program-specific:

[102 S.Ct. 1915]

[S]uch termination or refusal shall be limited to the particular political entity, or part thereof, or other recipient as to whom such a finding [of noncompliance] has been made, and shall be limited in its effect to the particular program, or part thereof, in which such noncompliance has been so found. . . .3

In 1975, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) invoked its § 902 authority to issue regulations

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governing the operation of federally funded education programs.4 These regulations extend, for example, to policies involving admissions. textbooks, and athletics. See 34 CFR pt. 106 (1980).5 Interpreting the term "person" in § 901(a) to encompass employees as well as students, HEW included among the regulations a series entitled "Subpart E," which deals with employment practices, ranging from job classifications to pregnancy leave. See 34 CFR §§ 106.51-106.61 (1980). Subpart E's general introductory section provides:

No person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in employment, or recruitment,

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consideration, or selection therefor, whether full-time or part-time, under any education program or activity operated by a recipient which receives or benefits from Federal financial assistance.

§ 106.51(a)(1).6

II

Petitioners are two Connecticut public school boards that brought separate suits challenging HEW's authority to issue the Subpart E regulations. Petitioners contend that Title IX was not meant to reach the employment practices of educational institutions.

A. The North Haven case. The North Haven Board of Education (North Haven) receives federal funds for its education programs and activities, and is therefore subject to Title IX's prohibition of gender discrimination. Since the 1975-1976 school year, North Haven has devoted between 46.8% and 66.9% of its federal assistance to the salaries of its employees; this practice is expected to continue.7

In January, 1978, Elaine Dove, a tenured teacher in the North Haven public school system, filed a complaint with HEW, alleging that North Haven had violated Title IX by refusing to rehire her after a one-year maternity leave. In response to this complaint, HEW began to investigate the school board's employment practices, and sought from petitioner information concerning its policies on hiring, leaves of absence, seniority, and tenure. Asserting that HEW lacked authority to regulate employment practices under Title IX, North Haven refused to comply with the request.

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When HEW then notified petitioner that it was considering administrative enforcement proceedings, North Haven brought this action in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. The complaint sought a declaratory judgment that the Subpart E regulations exceeded the authority conferred on HEW by Title IX, and an injunction prohibiting HEW from attempting to terminate the school district's federal funds on the basis of those regulations. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and on April 24, 1979, the District Court granted North Haven's motion. App. to Pet. for Cert. 51A. Agreeing with petitioner that Title IX was not intended to apply to employment practices, the court invalidated the employment regulations and permanently enjoined HEW from interfering with North Haven's federal funds because of noncompliance with those regulations.

B. The Trumbull case. The Trumbull Board of Education (Trumbull) likewise receives financial support from the Federal Government, and must therefore adhere to the requirements of Title IX and appropriate implementing regulations. In October, 1977, HEW began investigating a complaint filed by respondent Linda Potz, a former guidance counselor in the Trumbull school district. Potz alleged that Trumbull had discriminated against her on the basis of gender with respect to job assignments, working conditions, and the failure to renew her contract. In September, 1978, HEW notified Trumbull that it had violated Title IX and warned that corrective action, including respondent's reinstatement, must be taken.

Trumbull then filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, contending that HEW's Title IX employment regulations were invalid and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. On the basis of its decision in North Haven, the District Court granted Trumbull's motion for summary judgment on May 24, 1979. App. to Pet. for

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Cert. 76A.8 The court subsequently amended the judgment, on Trumbull's request, to include injunctive and declaratory relief similar to that ordered in North Haven's case. Id. at 77A, 91A-92A.

[102 S.Ct. 1917] C. The appeal. The two cases were...

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