463 U.S. 582 (1983), 81-431, Guardians Ass'n v. Civil Service Com'n of City of New York

Docket Nº:No. 81-431.
Citation:463 U.S. 582, 103 S.Ct. 3221, 77 L.Ed.2d 866
Party Name:GUARDIANS ASSOCIATION, etc., et al., Petitioners v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OF the CITY OF NEW YORK et al.
Case Date:July 01, 1983
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 582

463 U.S. 582 (1983)

103 S.Ct. 3221, 77 L.Ed.2d 866

GUARDIANS ASSOCIATION, etc., et al., Petitioners

v.

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OF the CITY OF NEW YORK et al.

No. 81-431.

United States Supreme Court.

July 1, 1983

Argued Nov. 1, 1982.

Black and Hispanic members of city police department brought employment discrimination suit alleging that layoffs, carried out pursuant to department's "last-hired, first-fired" policy were discriminatory. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, 431 F.Supp. 526, Robert L. Carter, J., granted preliminary injunction and defendants appealed. The Court of Appeals, 562 F.2d 38, vacated and remanded. On remand, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, 466 F.Supp. 1273, Robert L. Carter, J., granted preliminary injunctive relief, and defendants appealed. The Court of Appeals, Meskill, Circuit Judge, 633 F.2d 232, affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded, and certiorari was granted. The Supreme Court, Justice White, held that Black and Hispanic members of city police department who brought Title VI suit challenging city police department's "last-hired, first-fired" policy were not entitled to compensatory relief, or other relief based on past violations of conditions attached to use of federal funds, in absence of showing of intentional discrimination.

Affirmed.

Justice Powell concurred in the judgment and filed an opinion in which Chief Justice Burger joined and in part of which Justice Rehnquist joined.

Justice Rehnquist filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

Justice O'Connor filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

Justice Marshall dissented and filed an opinion.

Justice Stevens, dissented and filed an opinion in which Justice Brennan and Justice Blackmun joined.

[103 S.Ct. 3222] Syllabus[*]

SYLLABUS

Petitioner black and Hispanic police officers were appointed to the New York City Police Department upon achieving passing scores on the examinations administered to make entry-level appointments. Since appointments were made in order of test scores, however, the examinations caused blacks and Hispanics to be hired later than similarly situated whites, which lessened petitioner officers' seniority and related benefits. Accordingly, when the Department subsequently laid off police officers on a "last-hired, first-fired" basis, those officers who had achieved the lowest scores were laid off first, and petitioner officers were disproportionately affected by the layoffs. Petitioner officers and petitioner organizations then brought a class action in Federal District Court against respondents (the Department and other New York City officials and entities), alleging that the layoffs violated their rights under, inter alia, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Citing administrative regulations promulgated under Title VI, the District Court ultimately held that an implied private right of action existed under Title VI and that proof of discriminatory effect was enough to establish a violation of Title VI, thereby rejecting respondents' contention that only proof of discriminatory intent could suffice. The District Court granted certain relief under Title VII, and also granted the following relief under Title VI: (1) Each class member was awarded constructive seniority, including the right to backpay and back medical and insurance benefits which he would have received had he been appointed on his constructive seniority date; (2) respondents were directed to give a sergeant's examination to those class members whose constructive seniority would have entitled them to take the last such examination; and (3) respondents were ordered to consult with petitioners on the preparation and use of future examinations to insure that future hiring practices would be nondiscriminatory. The Court of Appeals affirmed the relief under Title VII, but reversed as to Title VI, holding that the awards of Title VI relief could not be sustained because proof of discriminatory intent was required.

Held: The judgment is affirmed.

633 F.2d 232 (CA 2, 1980), affirmed.

COUNSEL

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[103 S.Ct. 3223] Christopher Crowley argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs was Kenneth Kimerling.

Leonard Koerner argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief wasFrederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr.*

* Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed by Arthur N. Eisenberg andE. Richard Larson for the American Civil Liberties Union et al.; and by Vilma S. Martinez, Morris J. Baller, and Roger L. Waldman for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund et al.

Robert E. Williams, Douglas S. McDowell, and Thomas R. Bagby filed a brief for the Equal Employment Advisory Council as amicus curiae urging affirmance.

Thomas I. Atkins and Michael H. Sussman filed a brief for the NAACP as amicus curiae.

[103 S.Ct. 3223] Christopher Crowley, New York City, for petitioners.

Leonard Koerner, New York City, for respondents.

OPINION

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Justice WHITE announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the following opinion, in Parts I, III, IV and V of which Justice REHNQUIST joins.

The threshold issue before the Court is whether the private plaintiffs in this case need to prove discriminatory intent to establish a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, et seq.,1 and administrative implementing regulations promulgated thereunder. I conclude, as do four other Justices, in separate opinions, that the Court of Appeals erred in requiring proof of discriminatory intent. 2 However, I conclude that the judgment below should be affirmed on other grounds, because, in the absence of proof of discriminatory animus, compensatory relief should not be awarded to private Title VI plaintiffs; unless discriminatory intent is shown, declaratory and limited injunctive relief should be the only available private remedies for Title VI violations. There being four other Justices who would affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals, that judgment is accordingly affirmed.

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I

This class action involves a challenge by black and Hispanic police officers, petitioners here,3 to several written examinations administered by New York City between 1968 and 1970 that were used to make entry-level appointments to the city's police department (the "Department") through October 1974. 4 The District Court found that the challenged examinations had a discriminatory impact on the scores and pass-rates of blacks and Hispanics and were not job-related. These findings were not disturbed in the Court of Appeals.

Each member of the plaintiff class seeking relief from discrimination achieved a passing score on one of the challenged examinations and was hired as a police officer. Since appointments were made in order of test score, however, the examinations caused the class members to be hired later than similarly-situated whites, which lessened the petitioners' seniority and related benefits. Accordingly, when the Department laid off police officers in June [103 S.Ct. 3224] 1975 on a "last-hired, first-fired" basis, those officers who had achieved the lowest scores on the examinations were laid off first, and the plaintiff black and Hispanic officers were disproportionately affected by the layoffs.

On April 30, 1976, petitioners filed the present suit5 against the Department and other New York City officials

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and entities, the respondents here. Petitioners' amended complaint alleged that the June 1975 layoffs violated their rights under Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d, et seq., and 2000e, et seq., under 42 U.S.C.§ 1983, and under various other state and federal laws. 6 The primary allegation of the complaint was that but for the discriminatory impact of the challenged examinations upon minorities, petitioners would have been hired earlier and therefore would have accumulated sufficient seniority to withstand the layoffs.

After a hearing, the District Court held that, although petitioners had failed to prove that the respondents had acted with discriminatory intent, the use of the exams violated Title VII, because the tests had a disparate impact upon minorities and were not proven by respondents to be job-related. 7 The court therefore granted petitioners' motion for a preliminary injunction restraining the Department from firing or recalling any police officers until seniority lists were reordered to accord petitioners the seniority they would have had but for respondents' discriminatory practices. 431 F.Supp. 526 (S.D.N.Y.1977). In light of its holding under

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Title VII, the District Court deemed it unnecessary to decide the merits of petitioners' claims under Title VI. Id., at 530, n. 2.

On respondents' appeal, the Second Circuit vacated the District Court's decision and remanded the case for reconsideration in light of our holding in Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 97 S.Ct. 1843, 52 L.Ed.2d 396 (1977), in which we ruled that a bona fide seniority system that merely perpetuates the effects of pre-Title VII discrimination is protected by § 703(h) of that statute, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(h). 562 F.2d 38 (1977). On remand, the District Court found that Teamsters had rendered its previous holding untenable to the extent that it granted relief with respect to discrimination occurring prior to March 24, 1972, the date on which Title VII became applicable to municipalities. See Pub.L. 92-261 § 2(1), 86 Stat. 103 (1972). This meant that, under Title VII, class members hired prior to the effective date were not entitled to any relief, and that the remaining members of the class were only entitled to back seniority awards that did not take into account time periods prior to that date. 466 F.Supp. 1273, 1280 (S.D.N.Y.1979).

The court then turned to Title VI, which has been applicable...

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