Keller v. Prince George's County Dept., Civ. A. No. N-85-793.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
Writing for the CourtNORTHROP, Senior
Citation616 F. Supp. 540
PartiesMazie KELLER v. PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, et al.
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. N-85-793.
Decision Date19 August 1985

616 F. Supp. 540

Mazie KELLER
v.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, et al.

Civ. A. No. N-85-793.

United States District Court, D. Maryland.

August 19, 1985.


616 F. Supp. 541

Michael H. Feldman, and Ashcraft & Gerel, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff.

Stephen H. Sachs, Atty. Gen., and Mark J. Davis, and Nancy B. Shuger, Asst. Attys. Gen., Baltimore, Md., for defendant Prince George's County Dept. of Social Services.

NORTHROP, Senior District Judge.

Mazie Keller, a black woman, instituted this law suit after denial of a promotion by the Prince George's County Department of Social Services ("Department") and the State of Maryland.1 She was employed by the Department, and beginning in approximately 1980, was classified as a Case Worker Associate II. In September, 1983, she applied for promotion to the higher salaried position of Case Worker Associate III. Plaintiff claims she was denied the position because of her race.

Plaintiff asserts two causes of action in her suit: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The underlying facts for both actions are identical.

The Department has moved to dismiss the section 1983 claim arguing that it is preempted in this instance by the Title VII claim. The Department contends that a 1983 action cannot be maintained for employment discrimination where Title VII provides a concurrent and more comprehensive coverage of the matter. The Department relies on a series of relatively recent decisions to support its position. The plaintiff disputes the application of these holdings to the facts of this case.

Section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 forbids any person acting under color of state law or regulation from depriving a citizen of rights secured by the Constitution and federal laws. 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits an employer (of at least 15 persons) to hire, discharge or discriminate against any individual with respect to any of the conditions of employment because of such individual's, race, color, religion, sex or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2.

The plaintiff, Mazie Keller, alleges that she was denied a promotion by her employer because of her race or color (black). This allegation, of course, falls within the scope of Title VII. She further alleges, however, that her employer's action was also a violation of the equal protection guarantee or clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that this constitutional violation is a sufficient and separate predicate deprivation of right giving rise to a section 1983 claim.

Previously, this Court has allowed a plaintiff to bring both a Title VII action for denial of promotion and a section 1983 action for violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment even though both actions were based on the same alleged facts underlying the denial of promotion. Cussler v. University of Maryland, 430 F.Supp. 602 (D.Md.1977) (Northrop, C.J.). The Court is now required, however, to reconsider this holding in the light of subsequent decisions.

In Great American Fed. S. & L. Ass'n. v. Novotny, 442 U.S. 366, 99 S.Ct. 2345, 60 L.Ed.2d 957 (1979) the Supreme Court considered

616 F. Supp. 542
the concurrent application of the Civil Rights Acts of 1871 and 1964. The appellee Novotny had brought a suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) against his employers for conspiracy to deprive him of equal protection under the laws. Id. at 369, 99 S.Ct. at 2347. He alleged his company had discharged him discriminatorily because he had complained about the company's disparate treatment of female employees. Because section 1985(3) provides remedial framework only for unequal treatment, Novotny was first required to prove a deprivation of the equal protection of a specific law. Novotny, supra at 373, 99 S.Ct. at 2349. The law under which Novotny claimed he suffered unequal treatment was Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The question before the Court was thus "whether the rights created by Title VII may also be asserted within the remedial framework of § 1985(3)." Id. at 377, 99 S.Ct. at 2351 (emphasis in original)

The Supreme Court noted that an employee could assert separate statutory remedies for the same underlying factual occurrence if the remedies vindicated separate and distinct rights. Novotny, supra at 377-78, 99 S.Ct. at 2351-52, relying on Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 49-50, 94 S.Ct. 1011, 1020-21, 39 L.Ed.2d 147 (1974). The Court, however, found no separate and distinct rights present in the assertion of a Title VII claim and a § 1985(3) claim based on Title VII. Furthermore, the Court found that allowing a § 1985(3) claim to proceed predicated on Title VII would effectively defeat Congress' intention to proscribe and rectify employment discrimination through the specific procedures and remedies of Title...

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12 practice notes
  • Keller v. Prince George's County, No. 86-3876
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • August 26, 1987
    ...1983 claim on the ground that Title VII provides the exclusive remedy for employment discrimination claims against a state employer. 616 F.Supp. 540 (D.Md.1985). After a bench trial, the district Page 954 court entered judgment for defendants on the Title VII claim, ruling that the plaintif......
  • Marrero-Rivera v. Dept. of Justice, Civ. No. 92-2268.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • April 30, 1993
    ...Ratliff v. City of Milwaukee, 608 F.Supp. 1109 (E.D.Wis.1985); Keller v. Prince George's County Department of Social Services, 616 F.Supp. 540, 544 (D.Md.1985).3 "The plaintiff's so-called constitutional allegations are so tied up with their cause of action under Title VII that they are, in......
  • Pollard v. City of Chicago, No. 85 C 0009.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • July 25, 1986
    ...wrong. See Trigg v. Fort Wayne Community Schools, 766 F.2d 299, 301-302 (CA7 1985). Citing Keller v. Dept. of Social Services, 616 F.Supp. 540 (D.C.Md.1985), City contends Pollard's "section 1983 claim for alleged employment discrimination cannot be maintained where Title VII provides a con......
  • Roybal v. City of Albuquerque, CV No. 85-1616 HB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • July 1, 1986
    ...Consolidated School District No. 26-JT, 618 F.Supp. 1458 (D.Colo.1985); Keller v. Prince George's County Department of Social Services, 616 F.Supp. 540 (D.Md. 1985); Tafoya v. Adams, 612 F.Supp. 1097 (D.Colo.1985). The courts recognizing alternative causes of action under Title VII and § 19......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Keller v. Prince George's County, No. 86-3876
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • August 26, 1987
    ...1983 claim on the ground that Title VII provides the exclusive remedy for employment discrimination claims against a state employer. 616 F.Supp. 540 (D.Md.1985). After a bench trial, the district Page 954 court entered judgment for defendants on the Title VII claim, ruling that the plaintif......
  • Marrero-Rivera v. Dept. of Justice, Civ. No. 92-2268.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • April 30, 1993
    ...Ratliff v. City of Milwaukee, 608 F.Supp. 1109 (E.D.Wis.1985); Keller v. Prince George's County Department of Social Services, 616 F.Supp. 540, 544 (D.Md.1985).3 "The plaintiff's so-called constitutional allegations are so tied up with their cause of action under Title VII that they are, in......
  • Pollard v. City of Chicago, No. 85 C 0009.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • July 25, 1986
    ...wrong. See Trigg v. Fort Wayne Community Schools, 766 F.2d 299, 301-302 (CA7 1985). Citing Keller v. Dept. of Social Services, 616 F.Supp. 540 (D.C.Md.1985), City contends Pollard's "section 1983 claim for alleged employment discrimination cannot be maintained where Title VII provides a con......
  • Roybal v. City of Albuquerque, CV No. 85-1616 HB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • July 1, 1986
    ...Consolidated School District No. 26-JT, 618 F.Supp. 1458 (D.Colo.1985); Keller v. Prince George's County Department of Social Services, 616 F.Supp. 540 (D.Md. 1985); Tafoya v. Adams, 612 F.Supp. 1097 (D.Colo.1985). The courts recognizing alternative causes of action under Title VII and § 19......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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