E.E.O.C. v. Ford Motor Co., Nos. 79-1515

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore WINTER and BUTZNER; WINTER; WALTER E. HOFFMAN
Citation645 F.2d 183
Decision Date19 March 1981
Docket Number79-1516,Nos. 79-1515
Parties25 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 774, 25 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 31,636 EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Appellee, v. FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Appellant. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Appellant, v. FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Appellee.

Page 183

645 F.2d 183
25 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 774,
25 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 31,636
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Appellee,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Appellant.
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Appellant,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Appellee.
Nos. 79-1515, 79-1516.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fourth Circuit.
Argued June 2, 1980.
Decided March 19, 1981.

Page 185

John R. Wester and Richard A. Vinroot, Charlotte, N. C. (Fleming, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P. A., Charlotte, N. C., on brief), for appellant.

Vince J. Blackwood, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Washington, D. C. (Leroy D. Clark, Gen. Counsel, Joseph T. Eddins, Associate Counsel, Beatrice Rosenberg, Asst. Gen. Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Washington, D. C., on brief), for appellee.

Before WINTER and BUTZNER, Circuit Judges, and HOFFMAN *, Senior District Judge.

WINTER, Circuit Judge:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought suit against Ford Motor Company for violating Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. EEOC alleged that Ford had discriminated against several women in its hiring practices at a parts warehouse in Charlotte, North Carolina. The district court found that Ford had discriminated against ten individual women and awarded them back pay. We affirm, but remand the case to the district court for consideration of additional relief.

I.

Ford operates a parts warehouse in Charlotte. A number of the workers at the warehouse are "picker-packers." These employees fill orders for automotive parts by "picking" out ordered parts from storage and "packing" them for delivery. Until 1972 when two women were hired as temporary workers, no woman had ever worked as a picker-packer at the warehouse. Ford did not hire a woman to work as a picker-packer on a permanent basis until 1975.

In 1971, Judy Gaddis applied for employment as a picker-packer at the warehouse. When she did not receive a job, she filed a sex discrimination charge with the EEOC. The EEOC, after unsuccessfully trying to secure an acceptable conciliation agreement, sued Ford under Title VII on behalf of two groups of women. The first group

Page 186

consisted of Gaddis and two others who applied for picker-packer jobs which Ford filled with men in the summer of 1971. The second group consisted of eleven women who applied for a single picker-packer opening in 1973. Again in 1973 Ford had chosen a man, not a woman, to work at the warehouse.

The 1971 woman applicants were Gaddis, Rebecca Starr and Zettie Smith. In response to proof that as of 1971 it had never hired women as picker-packers and proof of a discriminatory hiring policy, Ford attempted to demonstrate that it had not in fact discriminated against women in its hiring practices at the Charlotte warehouse. Further, Ford tried to show that these particular women had not applied before the 1971 openings were filled. The district court rejected Ford's arguments, finding that Ford had followed a discriminatory hiring policy and that the three women had applied prior to the time in 1971 when Ford hired three men.

With the aid of a special master, the district court calculated the back pay due Gaddis, Starr, and Smith. Based upon the employment history of the three men who were hired in 1971, 1 the district court decided that, if the women had been hired in 1971, they would have worked at Ford until the time of trial. The special master thus began the back pay period with the date of the 1971 hirings and ended it at the date of trial in 1977.

With respect to Gaddis and Starr only, Ford attempted to terminate its back pay liability at three different junctures: in 1973 when they were recalled for one year by their former employer General Motors, later in 1973 when they rejected job offers from Ford, and in 1975 when they entered a CETA nurses training program. The district court refused to truncate the back pay periods at any of these points. Further, the district court rejected Ford's request to subtract unemployment compensation from the back pay awards.

In 1973, Ford filled a vacancy by hiring a man, Robert Simpson, even though eleven women had applied for the position. The district court ruled that EEOC proved a prima facie case of sex discrimination, in this instance based upon Ford's hiring procedures. After referral, the special master found that Simpson was hired in part because a warehouse employee took an interest in his application and that Ford did not seriously consider the applications of the eleven women. The special master determined that Ford did not intentionally discriminate against the women when it hired Simpson. But the special master concluded that Ford's practice of hiring new employees on the recommendation of present workers, who were all male, without giving other applications full consideration, had a discriminatory effect upon the women applicants. The district court accepted the conclusion of the special master.

Pursuant to the district court's instructions, the special master determined the back pay due each of the women who had applied for the 1973 opening. Smith was among the eleven who had applied, but she was not included in the 1973 group because her injury was remedied by the award she received as a member of the 1971 group. Of the remaining ten applicants, seven appeared before the special master and demonstrated their financial injury. 2 Under the district court's directions, the special master divided each woman's award by seven, since the seven women had applied for a single vacancy.

Ford attempted to reduce its back pay liability by arguing that the back pay periods

Page 187

of the seven women should terminate with the end of Simpson's employment at Ford. Simpson was laid off by Ford in 1974. He was not recalled; instead, Ford hired a woman, its first permanent female picker-packer, to fill his job. The special master found, however, that it was Ford's usual practice to recall employees who had been laid off. Therefore, the special master refused to end the back pay period with Simpson's termination, and the district court approved that decision.

The district court granted the two groups of women no additional relief beyond back pay. No mention of additional relief was made in the report of the special master, nor did the district court discuss other remedies in its findings of fact and conclusions of law, its referral order, or its final order.

Finally, the district court ordered Ford to report in the future about the company's efforts to hire women. The court declined however, to grant general prospective relief against sex discrimination at the warehouse, due to the vigorous affirmative action program Ford had pursued since 1975.

II.

Because the 1971 openings and the 1973 opening involve different issues, we examine these two incidents of alleged discrimination separately.

A. 1971 Openings

(1) Discrimination

(a) Prima Facie Case

Under Title VII, EEOC bore the burden of establishing a prima facie case that Ford discriminated against Smith, Gaddis, and Starr. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). In this case, EEOC amply fulfilled its obligation.

EEOC showed that Ford had never hired a woman to work in its parts warehouse until 1972, when Gaddis and Starr were hired on a temporary basis, and that Ford hired its first woman permanent employee in 1975. In addition, Gaddis and Starr testified that when they applied in 1971 the receptionist told them that Ford did not hire women to work in the warehouse. Ford disputes this version of the facts and contends that the women were told that Ford "did not have females working (in the warehouse)." This version by itself supports an inference that Ford was discriminating on the basis of sex, but, in any event, the district court chose to believe the testimony of Gaddis and Starr. On these facts, the district court certainly made no clearly erroneous factual findings nor any improper legal determinations when it decided that EEOC established a prima facie case of sex discrimination by Ford against Gaddis, Starr, and Smith.

Once EEOC proved this prima facie case, Ford had the burden of proving a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for hiring the three men instead of Gaddis, Starr, and Smith. Board of Trustees of Keene State College v. Sweeney, 439 U.S. 24, 99 S.Ct. 295, 58 L.Ed.2d 216 (1978) (per curiam); McDonnell Douglas. Ford argues that Gaddis, Starr, and Smith had not applied when it filled the three vacancies and that therefore they were not in reality victims of discrimination as a result of Ford's 1971 hiring decisions.

(b) Rebuttal: Gaddis and Starr

Ford insists that Gaddis and Starr applied a few days after the vacancies had been filled. Instead of Gaddis and Starr, Ford hired James Blanchard and Phillip Coe. Ford's employment records indicated that Blanchard was hired on August 5 and that Coe was hired on August 16. It is undisputed that Gaddis and Starr applied on July 21. Thus, it would appear that Gaddis and Starr applied before Blanchard and Coe were hired.

Ford's warehouse manager, however, testified that he thought that he hired the two men by phone before July 21, so that they could give their employers notice before joining Ford. The testimony of the two men themselves indicated otherwise. Coe testified that was hired "only just two or three weeks" before he went to work. Since Coe began work on August 16, according to his testimony he was hired no

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earlier than July 27, after Gaddis and Starr applied. Blanchard testified that he had been contacted by Miller "a week or two weeks" before he started his new job on August 5. He, then, was hired no earlier than July 23, also after Gaddis and Starr applied.

The district court, while noting that there was conflicting evidence, concluded that "(a)t least two of the men employed in August Coe and Blanchard were offered their jobs after Gaddis and Starr...

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53 practice notes
  • Grove v. Frostburg Nat. Bank, Civ. A. No. J-79-516.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • April 22, 1982
    ...least males. This does not, however, preclude a finding of a practice of discrimination on the basis of sex. See EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., 645 F.2d 183, 197 (4th Cir.1981). Evidence of past practice, which is relevant in any discrimination action, is particularly important in this one, becaus......
  • Gaworski v. ITT Commercial Finance Corp., Nos. 92-1753
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 2, 1994
    ...the prophylactic purposes of a backpay award. See Craig v. Y & Y Snacks, Inc., 721 F.2d 77, 84 (3d Cir.1983); E.E.O.C. v. Ford Motor Co., 645 F.2d 183, 196 (4th Cir.1981), rev'd & remanded on other grounds, 458 U.S. 219, 102 S.Ct. 3057, 73 L.Ed.2d 721 (1982). Indeed, it leads to a windfall ......
  • Rasimas v. Michigan Dept. of Mental Health, Nos. 80-1735
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • July 28, 1983
    ...in excess of $81,000. UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE The majority adopts a rule established by the majority opinion in E.E.O.C. v. Ford Motor Co., 645 F.2d 183, 195-196 (4th Cir.), rev'd on other grounds, --- U.S. ----, 102 S.Ct. 3057, 73 L.Ed.2d 721 (1982), thus making it mandatory on all district......
  • Ford Motor Company v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 81-300
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 28, 1982
    ...employee would be unfairly laid off or Page 220 disadvantaged because a Title VII claimant has been granted seniority. Pp. 239-240. 645 F.2d 183 (4th Cir.), reversed and remanded. John R. Wester, Charlotte, N. C., for petitioner. David A. Strauss, Washington, D. C., for respondent, pro hac ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
53 cases
  • Grove v. Frostburg Nat. Bank, Civ. A. No. J-79-516.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • April 22, 1982
    ...least males. This does not, however, preclude a finding of a practice of discrimination on the basis of sex. See EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., 645 F.2d 183, 197 (4th Cir.1981). Evidence of past practice, which is relevant in any discrimination action, is particularly important in this one, becaus......
  • Gaworski v. ITT Commercial Finance Corp., Nos. 92-1753
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 2, 1994
    ...the prophylactic purposes of a backpay award. See Craig v. Y & Y Snacks, Inc., 721 F.2d 77, 84 (3d Cir.1983); E.E.O.C. v. Ford Motor Co., 645 F.2d 183, 196 (4th Cir.1981), rev'd & remanded on other grounds, 458 U.S. 219, 102 S.Ct. 3057, 73 L.Ed.2d 721 (1982). Indeed, it leads to a windfall ......
  • Rasimas v. Michigan Dept. of Mental Health, Nos. 80-1735
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • July 28, 1983
    ...in excess of $81,000. UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE The majority adopts a rule established by the majority opinion in E.E.O.C. v. Ford Motor Co., 645 F.2d 183, 195-196 (4th Cir.), rev'd on other grounds, --- U.S. ----, 102 S.Ct. 3057, 73 L.Ed.2d 721 (1982), thus making it mandatory on all district......
  • Ford Motor Company v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 81-300
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 28, 1982
    ...employee would be unfairly laid off or Page 220 disadvantaged because a Title VII claimant has been granted seniority. Pp. 239-240. 645 F.2d 183 (4th Cir.), reversed and remanded. John R. Wester, Charlotte, N. C., for petitioner. David A. Strauss, Washington, D. C., for respondent, pro hac ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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