Bridgeport Guardians, Inc. v. Delmonte, Civ. No. B-78-175.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Citation553 F. Supp. 601
Decision Date07 January 1983
Docket NumberCiv. No. B-78-175.
PartiesThe BRIDGEPORT GUARDIANS, INC., Theophilus B. Meekins, Charles D. Smith, and Arthur Carter, Plaintiffs, v. Arthur J. DELMONTE, John Devine, John C. O'Leary, Frank Delaquila, Larry Harris, Jr., Robert Bruno and James McCarthy, individually and in their capacities as Police Commissioners of the City of Bridgeport; and the City of Bridgeport, Defendants.

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Beverly J. Hodgson, Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, P.C., Bridgeport, Conn., for plaintiffs.

Paul McNamara, McNamara, Clancy & Kenney, Bridgeport, Conn., for defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

DALY, District Judge.

The Bridgeport Guardians, ("Guardians"), an organization of police officers within the Bridgeport Police Department ("B.P.D.") and the three named plaintiffs, each a Black police officer in the B.P.D. and a present or former officer of the Guardians, have brought this action against the Bridgeport Police Commissioners and the City of Bridgeport, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983; Title VI and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d et seq. and 2000e, et seq.; the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act, 31 U.S.C. § 1242(a); and the first, thirteenth and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory damages on their own behalf and on behalf of others similarly situated from what they claim is unlawful employment discrimination in the Bridgeport Police Department. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants by enacting and maintaining in force impermissibly broad departmental regulations violate plaintiffs' right of freedom of speech.

This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1334 and 2201; 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f); and 31 U.S.C. § 1244(a).

The following facts are uncontested.

The plaintiff, Bridgeport Guardians, Inc., ("Guardians"), as noted, supra, is an association of police officers in the Bridgeport Police Department ("B.P.D."), which has as one of its purposes the promotion of equal employment opportunity and the prevention of illegal employment discrimination in the B.P.D. The plaintiffs Arthur Carter, Theophilus B. Meekins, and Charles D. Smith are Black police officers employed in the Patrol Division of the B.P.D.

The defendant City of Bridgeport is the employer of police officers in the Bridgeport Police Department, which in turn is administered, pursuant to the City's charter, by the Board of Police Commissioners.

The defendants Arthur Delmonte, John Devine, John C. O'Leary, Frank Delaquila, Larry Harris, Jr., Robert Bruno, and James McCarthy were all members of the Board of Police Commissioners during the time in question.

The City of Bridgeport received in 1978-79, and currently receives, federal revenue sharing funds and other federal financial assistance which it uses to pay for B.P.D. health insurance benefits as well as other activities of the B.P.D.

In 1978, plaintiffs filed administrative charges of discrimination against the defendants regarding the alleged instances of discrimination against minority police officers which are at issue in this suit, with the U.S. Department of Justice; the U.S. Office of Revenue Sharing; and the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, as is its practice, filed copies of the plaintiffs charges on plaintiffs' behalf with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), and on June 19, 1980, the U.S. Department of Justice issued to plaintiffs a Notice of Right to Sue in connection with their EEOC charge. (Plaintiffs' Ex. 2.)

I. Employment Discrimination Claims

Plaintiffs have alleged that defendants have discriminated against minority police officers in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983; Title VI and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, et seq. and § 2000e, et seq. (hereinafter "Title VI" and "Title VII"); the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act, 31 U.S.C. § 1242(a).

Since the standards of proof for establishing claims of employment discrimination under the cited statutes differ, the Court turns first to a review of the applicable law.

Claims of employment discrimination on account of race may arise in two different ways. The claim may be based on an allegation that the employer simply treats members of the protected class less favorably than white persons. This type of claim has been referred to as a "disparate treatment" claim. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). Or, the claim may be based on an allegation that a practice or policy, neutral on its face, in fact impacts more harshly on the protected class than on members outside that class. This is known as a "disparate impact" claim. Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 91 S.Ct. 849, 28 L.Ed.2d 158 (1971). See also International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 335-36, n. 15, 97 S.Ct. 1843, 1854-55 n. 15, 52 L.Ed.2d 396 (1977).

To establish a "disparate treatment" claim of racial discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,1 plaintiffs must prove not only that they were treated differently and less favorably than similarly situated white employees, they must also prove that such different treatment was prompted by a discriminatory intent on the part of the employer — that is, that the employer treated them differently because of their race. Teamsters, supra. Of course, in some situations, discriminatory motive may be inferred from the mere fact of differences in treatment. Schwabenbauer v. Board of Education of City School District of Olean, 667 F.2d 305 (2d Cir.1981).

To establish a "disparate impact" claim of racial discrimination under Title VII proof of discriminatory motive or intent is not required. Teamsters, supra; Schwabenbauer, supra.

The same standards apply to discrimination claims brought under the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act, 31 U.S.C. § 1242.2 United States v. City of Chicago, 549 F.2d 415, 439-40 (7th Cir.1977), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 875, 98 S.Ct. 225, 54 L.Ed.2d 155 (1977); United States v. City of Buffalo, 457 F.Supp. 612, 619 (W.D.N.Y. 1978), modified on other grounds, 633 F.2d 643 (2d Cir.1980). See also 31 C.F.R. § 51.53(b).3

However, to establish a constitutionally-based claim of employment discrimination, proof of discriminatory intent is required regardless of what theory — treatment or impact — is used. Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 96 S.Ct. 2040, 48 L.Ed.2d 597 (1976). The Supreme Court recently held that 42 U.S.C. § 19814 "like the Equal Protection Clause, can be violated only by purposeful discrimination." General Building Contractors Assoc., Inc. v. Pennsylvania et al., ___ U.S. ___, 102 S.Ct. 3141, 73 L.Ed.2d 835 (1982). Similarly, in discrimination suits brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,5 proof of discriminatory intent is also required. Personnel Administrator v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256, 99 S.Ct. 2282, 60 L.Ed.2d 870 (1979); Knight v. Nassau County Civil Service Commission, 649 F.2d 157, 161 (2d Cir.1981). Thus, proof that an official action or policy has a discriminatory effect or impact is insufficient to establish a claim under § 1981 or 1983; there must also be proof that that action or policy was racially motivated, that is, that it was prompted by a discriminatory purpose.

Such an invidious discriminatory purpose, however, in some cases may be inferred from the simple fact or extent of the impact on members of the protected class. See Washington, supra, 426 U.S. at 242, 96 S.Ct. at 2049; Teamsters, supra, 431 U.S. at 335-36, n. 15, 97 S.Ct. at 1854-55, n. 15.

Proof of discriminatory intent or purpose, regardless of the theory employed, is also required for claims brought against public employers under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.6 Lora v. Board of Education of the City of New York, 623 F.2d 248, 250 (2d Cir.1980).

In cases alleging employment discrimination, the burdens of proof vary depending upon which theory the claim is based. To establish a prima facie disparate-treatment case, brought under any of the cited statutes, plaintiffs must present evidence to establish that they were treated less favorably than other similarly situated employees and that they were so treated because of their race.7 The latter element—the employer's discriminatory intent or motive or purpose — may be shown by direct evidence, if such exists, or by circumstantial evidence, including evidence of the difference in treatment itself, from which an inference of an unlawful motive may be drawn. As already noted, "proof of discriminatory motive ... can in some situations be inferred from the mere fact of differences in treatment." Schwabenbauer, supra, 667 F.2d at 309. Once the plaintiffs have established a prima facie case of racially discriminatory treatment, the burden shifts to the employer to show a non-race based motive for its treatment of the plaintiffs. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, supra 411 U.S. at 802, 93 S.Ct. at 1824. If the employer makes such a showing, the plaintiffs must then be afforded an opportunity to show that the reason articulated by the employer is, in fact, merely a pretext for discrimination. McDonnell Douglas Corp., supra, 411 U.S. at 804, 93 S.Ct. at 1825.

To establish a prima facie "disparate-impact" claim under Title VII or the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act, plaintiffs must present evidence that the challenged policy or practice has a racially-discriminatory effect. Once a discriminatory effect is demonstrated, the burden then shifts to the employer to demonstrate that the practice or policy has a "manifest relationship to the employment in question" or that it is justified by business necessity. Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 91 S.Ct. 849, 28...

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