805 F.2d 1143 (4th Cir. 1986), 85-2394, Patterson v. McLean Credit Union

Docket Nº:85-2394.
Citation:805 F.2d 1143
Party Name:Brenda PATTERSON, Appellant, v. McLEAN CREDIT UNION, Appellee.
Case Date:November 25, 1986
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 1143

805 F.2d 1143 (4th Cir. 1986)

Brenda PATTERSON, Appellant,

v.

McLEAN CREDIT UNION, Appellee.

No. 85-2394.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

November 25, 1986

Argued Oct. 9, 1986.

Page 1144

Harold L. Kennedy, III, Harvey L. Kennedy (Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy and Kennedy, Winston-Salem, N.C., on brief), for appellant.

H. Lee Davis, Jr. (George E. Doughton, Jr., Hutchins, Tyndall, Doughton and Moore, Winston-Salem, N.C., on brief), for appellee.

Before WIDENER and PHILLIPS, Circuit Judges, and HAYNSWORTH, Senior Circuit Judge.

JAMES DICKSON PHILLIPS, Circuit Judge:

In this action the plaintiff, Brenda Patterson, sued her employer, McLean Credit Union (McLean), on claims, under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981, of racial harassment, and failure to promote and discharge, together with a pendent state claim for intentional infliction of mental and emotional distress. [*] The district court submitted the Sec. 1981 discharge and promotion claims to the jury which returned a verdict in favor of McLean, and granted directed verdicts to McLean on the Sec. 1981 racial harassment claim and on the pendent state claim for intentional infliction of mental and emotional distress. We hold that the claim for racial harassment was not cognizable under Sec. 1981; that the evidence was insufficient to support the pendent state claim; and that the court did not err in its jury instructions nor in its evidentiary rulings on the submitted claims under Sec. 1981. We therefore affirm.

I

Brenda Patterson, a black woman, was an employee of McLean Credit Union from May 5, 1972 to July 19, 1982, when she was laid off. Robert Stevenson, McLean's president, hired Patterson to be a teller and file

Page 1145

coordinator. According to Patterson's testimony, when he hired her, Stevenson told Patterson that the other women in the office, who were white, probably would not like her because she was black.

During her ten years of employment with McLean, Patterson experienced treatment that she considered to be racially motivated harassment by Stevenson. She testified that he periodically stared at her for several minutes at a time; that he gave her too many tasks, causing her to complain that she was under too much pressure; that among the tasks given her were sweeping and dusting, jobs not given to white employees. On one occasion, she testified, Stevenson told Patterson that blacks are known to work slower than whites. According to Patterson, Stevenson also criticized her in staff meetings while not similarly criticizing white employees.

Patterson never was promoted from her position as teller and file coordinator throughout her tenure at McLean. Susan Williamson, a white employee who was hired by McLean in 1974 as an accounting clerk, received a title change from "Account Junior" to "Account Intermediate" in 1982. This title change entailed no change of responsibility. Patterson asserted that Williamson's title change was a promotion that Patterson herself should have received, based primarily on her seniority over Williamson. Patterson also claimed that her 1982 layoff was discriminatory because white employees with less experience kept their jobs.

Patterson based her Sec. 1981 claims and her state claim of intentional infliction of mental and emotional distress on the evidence above summarized. The district court held that a claim for racial harassment is not cognizable under Sec. 1981, and refused to submit that claim to the jury. Examining North Carolina case law applicable to Patterson's pendent state claim, the district court concluded that Stevenson's treatment of Patterson did not rise to the level of outrageousness required under state law for recovery for intentional infliction of emotional distress and directed a verdict against Patterson on that claim. The court submitted the Sec. 1981 claims for discriminatory failure to promote and discharge to the jury, which returned a verdict for McLean. This appeal followed.

II

Patterson first challenges the court's refusal to submit her related claims for racial harassment and intentional infliction of mental and emotional distress to the jury.

A

We hold, in agreement with the district court, that Patterson's claim for racial harassment is not cognizable under Sec. 1981, which provides in relevant part that "[a]ll persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right ... to make and enforce contracts ... as is enjoyed by white citizens." That racial harassment claims are cognizable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e, does not persuade us otherwise. The broader language of Title VII, which makes unlawful "discriminat[ion] against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race," 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e-2(a) (emphasis added), stands in critical contrast to Sec. 1981's more narrow prohibition of discrimination in the making and enforcing of contracts. Cf. United States v. Buffalo, 457 F.Supp. 612, 631 (W.D.N.Y.1978) (the intentionally broad provisions of Title VII accommodate claims based on having to work in a racially discriminatory environment), modified on other grounds, 633 F.2d 643 (2d Cir.1980). Claims of racially discriminatory hiring,...

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50 practice notes
  • 908 F.2d 104 (7th Cir. 1990), 89-1379, McKnight v. General Motors Corp.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • 2 Julio 1990
    ...of racially discriminatory ... firing ... fall easily within Sec. 1981's protection." Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 805 F.2d 1143, 1145 (4th Cir.1986), aff'd on other grounds --- U.S. ----, 109 S.Ct. 2363, 105 L.Ed.2d 132 (1989).) A party should be allowed to take advantage of a de......
  • From employment to contract: section 1981 and antidiscrimination law for the independent contractor workforce.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 116 Nbr. 1, October 2006
    • 1 Octubre 2006
    ...VII's shorter statute of limitations barred a claim while [section] 1981's statute did not. See, e.g., Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 805 F.2d 1143, 1144 n. * (4th Cir. 1986), aff'd in part and vacated in part, 491 U.S. 164 (1989). (127.) See, e.g., Riley v. Emory Univ., 136 F. App'x 264......
  • 668 F.Supp. 1342 (D.Ariz. 1987), CIV-83-2240, Guy v. City of Phoenix
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit District of Arizona
    • 5 Mayo 1987
    ...does not abridge the right to "make" or "enforce" contracts conferred by § 1981. Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 805 F.2d 1143 (4th Cir.1986). In a § 1981 action, there must be a tangible interference with plaintiff's economic interest--i.e., § 1981 only provides a rem......
  • 130 F.R.D. 617 (M.D.N.C. 1990), C-84-73-WS, Patterson v. McLean Credit Union
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 4th Circuit Middle District of North Carolina
    • 24 Enero 1990
    ...of intentional infliction of emotional distress was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 805 F.2d 1143 (4th Cir.1986), and left undisturbed by the Supreme Court. Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164, 109 S.Ct. 2363, 105 L.Ed.2d 132...
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49 cases
  • 908 F.2d 104 (7th Cir. 1990), 89-1379, McKnight v. General Motors Corp.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • 2 Julio 1990
    ...of racially discriminatory ... firing ... fall easily within Sec. 1981's protection." Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 805 F.2d 1143, 1145 (4th Cir.1986), aff'd on other grounds --- U.S. ----, 109 S.Ct. 2363, 105 L.Ed.2d 132 (1989).) A party should be allowed to take advantage of a de......
  • 668 F.Supp. 1342 (D.Ariz. 1987), CIV-83-2240, Guy v. City of Phoenix
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit District of Arizona
    • 5 Mayo 1987
    ...does not abridge the right to "make" or "enforce" contracts conferred by § 1981. Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 805 F.2d 1143 (4th Cir.1986). In a § 1981 action, there must be a tangible interference with plaintiff's economic interest--i.e., § 1981 only provides a rem......
  • 130 F.R.D. 617 (M.D.N.C. 1990), C-84-73-WS, Patterson v. McLean Credit Union
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 4th Circuit Middle District of North Carolina
    • 24 Enero 1990
    ...of intentional infliction of emotional distress was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 805 F.2d 1143 (4th Cir.1986), and left undisturbed by the Supreme Court. Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164, 109 S.Ct. 2363, 105 L.Ed.2d 132...
  • 716 F.Supp. 485 (D.Colo. 1989), Civ. A. 88-A-400, Padilla v. United Air Lines
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 10th Circuit District of Colorado
    • 5 Julio 1989
    ...to make a contract contrary to § 1981. 4 In Patterson, the Fourth Circuit agreed with this conclusion. Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 805 F.2d 1143, 1145 (4th Cir.1986). "Claims of racially discriminatory hiring, firing, and promotion go to the very existence and nature of the emplo......
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