Claiborne v. Illinois Cent. R.R., No. 75-3790

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore RONEY, RUBIN and VANCE; ALVIN B. RUBIN
Citation583 F.2d 143
Decision Date02 November 1978
Docket NumberNo. 75-3790
Parties18 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 536, 18 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 8674 Allen CLAIBORNE et al., on behalf of themselves and all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellees, Cross-Appellants, v. ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD et al., Defendants-Appellants, Cross-Appellees.

Page 143

583 F.2d 143
18 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 536, 18 Empl. Prac.
Dec. P 8674
Allen CLAIBORNE et al., on behalf of themselves and all
other persons similarly situated,
Plaintiffs-Appellees, Cross-Appellants,
v.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD et al., Defendants-Appellants,
Cross-Appellees.
No. 75-3790.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
Nov. 2, 1978.

Page 145

H. Martin Hunley, Jr., Albert H. Hanemann, Jr., New Orleans, La., Martin W. Fingerhut, Asst. Vice-Pres. Ill. Central Gulf R.R., Chicago, Ill., for defendants-appellants, cross-appellees.

Gerard C. Smetana, Chicago, Ill., amicus curiae for Chamber of Commerce of United States.

Steven R. Plotkin, Louis A. Gerdes, Jr., Victor H. Hess, Jr., New Orleans, La., Donald W. Fisher, Toledo, Ohio, for Brotherhood of Railway, etc.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Before RONEY, RUBIN and VANCE, Circuit Judges.

ALVIN B. RUBIN, Circuit Judge:

This appeal concerns principally the method of calculating the compensatory damages due black employees discriminated against by a railroad and whether or not they are due punitive damages. Twenty-eight black employees 1 at Illinois Central Railroad's Mays Yard in Jefferson Parish,

Page 146

Louisiana filed this action 2 against the railroad and two unions of which they were members, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, Et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, alleging racial discrimination in the operation of the railroad's job classification and promotion system, and in the railroad's furloughing of the plaintiffs in 1969. The trial court upheld all claims against the railroad, and dismissed all claims against the unions. The railroad, conceding that the trial court's findings of discrimination are not clearly erroneous, disputes its calculation of back-pay, its award of punitive damages, and the dismissal of claims against the union. The employees seek only an increase in the amount of attorneys' fees awarded. We affirm the award of compensatory and punitive damages, but remand for recalculation of the amount due each plaintiff. We deny additional attorneys' fees for work in the trial court but remand for an award of fees for this appeal and for subsequent trial court proceedings.

I. Factual Background

The plaintiffs in this suit are 21 carmen's helpers, also called "oilers," and 7 laborers, who, until November, 1969, were employees of the railroad at Mays Yard. Together with 9 other train yard or "prepare track" employees, the plaintiffs were furloughed in 1969 after a work efficiency study had been undertaken by the railroad's management. 3

The railroad's long-standing collective bargaining agreements with the union classed employees of the Mays Yard Car Department into four categories: carmen, carmen apprentices, carmen's helpers, and laborers. 4 Carmen were more highly paid than apprentices or helpers, who were, in turn, more highly paid than laborers. The only promotions of right to the carmen's rank accrued to carmen apprentices. Helpers might be upgraded at the discretion of the railroad; no one could be upgraded if qualified apprentices were available for carmen's work.

The plaintiffs' central assertion is that, from 1954 until 1969, the railroad administered its recruiting and promotional system so that in fact all persons classified as carmen were white. This was accomplished by classifying white employees initially hired as apprentices, while all black employees were classified as helpers or laborers; only apprentices and white workers from other classes at Mays Yard were made carmen. The plaintiffs sought to establish the equal or greater qualifications of those black helpers and laborers whom the railroad declined to upgrade, and argued that the railroad had discriminated on the basis of race, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) (1), 5 with respect to the terms and conditions of the plaintiffs' employment.

The trial court upheld the plaintiffs' claims of racial discrimination in an unpublished decision. The court further found that certain of the 1969 furloughs were themselves racially motivated. Although

Page 147

the court concluded that some of the furloughs were not racially premised, it held that these also violated Title VII because the railroad's prior failure to promote the furloughed plaintiffs according to their qualifications deprived them of such job protection as carmen's rank and seniority would have afforded them in a mass lay-off.

Having made findings as to the plaintiffs' qualifications to become carmen, the discriminatory acts of the railroad, and the effects of those acts on the plaintiffs' job status and furloughs, the court awarded damages and other relief as follows:

First, having determined that all the plaintiffs were qualified to become carmen on July 2, 1965, or six months subsequent to their dates of hire, whichever came later, the court awarded to each plaintiff the difference between his wages and carmen's wages beginning from either one year prior to the filing of the EEOC complaint or his date of qualification, whichever came later, and continuing to the date he was put on furlough. 6

Second, the court awarded the same pay differential to each plaintiff from the date he was furloughed to the date of his reinstatement as a carman with full seniority.

Third, the court ordered the railroad to make such contributions to the employees' retirement funds as it would have made had the plaintiffs been paid originally as ordered in the court's judgment. In cases in which a plaintiff declined to make his employee contribution to such funds, the railroad was ordered to pay the equivalent of its contribution to the employee directly.

Fourth, based on the average time by which the court found white employees had qualified for carmen's positions, the court ordered plaintiffs hired prior to 1960 to receive carmen's seniority beginning three years from their dates of hire, and plaintiffs hired after 1960 to receive such seniority starting six months from their start of work.

In addition, the court awarded the plaintiffs attorneys' fees and $50,000 in punitive damages.

The railroad challenges the court's calculations as to compensatory damages. We will first consider the appropriateness of the back-pay awards, and analyze the findings of fact on which each award rests. We will then discuss the remaining issues in the case: punitive damages, the unions' liability, and attorneys' fees.

II. Damages: What is the Rightful Place?

The award of damages to each plaintiff, equal to the difference between his and carmen's pay for the period between August 4, 1966, or his date of hypothetical qualification for promotion, and each plaintiff's date of furlough, depends essentially on three factual conclusions: on August 4, 1966, or on some later date, each plaintiff was qualified to work as a carman; none of the plaintiffs was promoted, and this was a result of racial discrimination; and, in the absence of discrimination, each plaintiff would have been promoted on the date he qualified for the position. We consider these conclusions in turn.

First, there was abundant evidence to support the trial court's finding that the plaintiffs were qualified for promotion. This was based in part on his conclusion, also supported by evidence, that, despite variations in the Description of the tasks of carmen and those of laborers and helpers contained in the relevant bargaining agreements, the Actual tasks of carmen and helpers in Mays Yard were largely fungible. Black helpers frequently did the same work as carmen. Some successfully served as carmen while white employees were on vacation or sick. Some of the black helpers had performed carmen's tasks for other

Page 148

railroads. Occasionally, black helpers trained white carmen and carmen apprentices. There was no evidence that white apprentices or white laborers who had been recruited to apprenticeship and who were later promoted to carmen status were any more qualified in any respect than the blacks passed over for promotion. The black plaintiffs who, after 1969, accepted reinstatement as carmen for the railroad received no additional training to enable them to perform their tasks; neither did those laborers who were reinstated. The railroad has not pointed to Any difficulties it has had in recruiting blacks from the laborers' group to become apprentices and then carmen. Far from being clearly erroneous, the court's conclusions as to the plaintiffs' qualifications were virtually compelled by the record.

Similarly, the court's findings of racial discrimination are amply supported. Although neutral on its face, the job classification and promotional system in effect between 1965 and 1969, in which the existence of a predominantly white apprentice class effectively blocked the upgrading of black helpers and laborers, 7 operated at the very least to " 'freeze' the status quo of prior discriminatory employment practices," Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 1971, 401 U.S. 424, 430, 91 S.Ct. 849, 853, 28 L.Ed.2d 158, 163, in violation of Title VII. The railroad has failed to demonstrate any business necessity as justification for its maintenance of a promotional system with discriminatory impact. Parson v. Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp., 5 Cir. 1978, 575 F.2d 1374, 1389; Pettway v. American Cast Iron Pipe Co., 5 Cir. 1974, 494 F.2d 211, 244. Furthermore, in view of the fact that an apprentice class existed, the railroad discriminated after 1965 in its failure to hire or upgrade sufficient blacks to apprentice positions.

The calculation of damages must be based on these well-supported premises. The railroad first contends that the trial court failed properly to follow those equitable principles that govern the implementation of relief in Title VII cases. Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 1975, 422 U.S. 405, 95 S.Ct. 2362, 45 L.Ed.2d 280. Specifically, it asserts that, in...

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  • Dyna-Med, Inc. v. Fair Employment & Housing Com., DYNA-ME
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 2 Noviembre 1987
    ...1409] see Claiborne v. Illinois Central Railroad (E.D.La.1975) 401 F.Supp. 1022, 1026, affd. in part and vacated in part (5th Cir.1978) 583 F.2d 143). Although the language of section 12970, subdivision (a) is broad enough to encompass the award of punitive damages, Dyna-Med challenges this......
  • Dyna-Med, Inc. v. Fair Employment and Housing Com'n, DYNA-ME
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 18 Noviembre 1985
    ...(see Claiborne v. Illinois Central Railroad (E.D.La.1975) 401 F.Supp. 1022, 1026, affirmed in part and vacated in part (5th Cir.1978) 583 F.2d 143). Although the language of section 12970, subdivision (a) is broad enough to encompass the award of punitive damages, Dyna-Med challenges this c......
  • Patterson v. P.H.P. Healthcare Corp., No. 95-50319
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 25 Julio 1996
    ...(5th Cir.1985). 13 In Jones, we also recognized this characterization to be one of malice. Id. (citing Claiborne v. Illinois Central R.R., 583 F.2d 143, 154 (5th Cir.1978), cert. denied, 442 U.S. 934, 99 S.Ct. 2869, 61 L.Ed.2d 303 Punitive damages were unavailable to Title VII plaintiffs un......
  • Wells v. Hutchinson, No. TY-75-69-CA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 25 Agosto 1980
    ...not have vitiated defendants' liability for having discriminated against him in Panola County. See Claiborne v. Illinois Central Railroad, 583 F.2d 143, 153 (5th Cir. 1978) ("Failure to accept an offer of reinstatement in a Title VII case does not necessarily terminate the right to relief, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
76 cases
  • Dyna-Med, Inc. v. Fair Employment & Housing Com., DYNA-ME
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 2 Noviembre 1987
    ...1409] see Claiborne v. Illinois Central Railroad (E.D.La.1975) 401 F.Supp. 1022, 1026, affd. in part and vacated in part (5th Cir.1978) 583 F.2d 143). Although the language of section 12970, subdivision (a) is broad enough to encompass the award of punitive damages, Dyna-Med challenges this......
  • Dyna-Med, Inc. v. Fair Employment and Housing Com'n, DYNA-ME
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 18 Noviembre 1985
    ...(see Claiborne v. Illinois Central Railroad (E.D.La.1975) 401 F.Supp. 1022, 1026, affirmed in part and vacated in part (5th Cir.1978) 583 F.2d 143). Although the language of section 12970, subdivision (a) is broad enough to encompass the award of punitive damages, Dyna-Med challenges this c......
  • Patterson v. P.H.P. Healthcare Corp., No. 95-50319
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 25 Julio 1996
    ...(5th Cir.1985). 13 In Jones, we also recognized this characterization to be one of malice. Id. (citing Claiborne v. Illinois Central R.R., 583 F.2d 143, 154 (5th Cir.1978), cert. denied, 442 U.S. 934, 99 S.Ct. 2869, 61 L.Ed.2d 303 Punitive damages were unavailable to Title VII plaintiffs un......
  • Wells v. Hutchinson, No. TY-75-69-CA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 25 Agosto 1980
    ...not have vitiated defendants' liability for having discriminated against him in Panola County. See Claiborne v. Illinois Central Railroad, 583 F.2d 143, 153 (5th Cir. 1978) ("Failure to accept an offer of reinstatement in a Title VII case does not necessarily terminate the right to relief, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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