Maitland v. University of Minnesota

Decision Date13 December 1994
Docket NumberNo. 93-3059,93-3059
Citation43 F.3d 357
Parties66 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 796, 63 USLW 2389, 96 Ed. Law Rep. 402 Ian MAITLAND, Appellant, v. UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA; The Regents of the University of Minnesota; Wendell R. Anderson; M. Elizabeth Craig; Jean B. Keffeler; Elton A. Kuderer; H. Bryan Neel; Mary J. Page; Lawrence Perlman; Thomas R. Reagan; David K. Roe; Darrin M. Rosha; Stanley D. Sahlstrom; Ann J. Wynia; Nils Hasselmo, Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

Ian Maitland, St. Paul, MN, argued, for appellant.

Julie Sweitzer, Minneapolis, MN, argued (Mark R. Rotenberg, on the brief), for appellee.

Before FAGG, BOWMAN, and LOKEN, Circuit Judges.

BOWMAN, Circuit Judge.

Ian Maitland, a member of the University of Minnesota faculty, has brought an action against the University, its Regents, and various officials (the University), alleging that the defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, 42 U.S.C. Secs. 2000e to 2000e-17 (1988). 1 Without reaching the merits of Maitland's Title VII claims, the District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the University, holding that Maitland's action is barred by Sec. 108 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e-2(n) (Supp. V 1993), and "general principles of estoppel." Maitland timely appeals. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.


In 1980, the University entered into a consent decree to settle a 1973 class action sex discrimination lawsuit brought by female academic employees. See Rajender v. University of Minn., 563 F.Supp. 401, 402-03 (D.Minn.1983) (discussing history of Rajender litigation), rev'd in part and vacated in part, 730 F.2d 1110 (8th Cir.1984). The Rajender consent decree provided that disputes regarding the implementation of the agreement would be referred to special masters for nonbinding arbitration or mediation, but the district court retained the right to approve the settlement of such disputes.

In 1983, several female employees filed petitions under the Rajender decree alleging that the University's salary structure discriminated against female academic employees. The district court certified these petitions as a class action, and the University eventually settled the matter with a second consent decree approved by the district court in 1989. In re Rajender Salary Settlement, Civ. No. 3-89-464 (D.Minn. Oct. 12, 1989). Maitland was not a party in the In re Rajender litigation, and he was not formally notified of the proposed settlement before the court approved it. He nevertheless sought and was granted an opportunity to present objections to the settlement. In its order approving the settlement, the court specifically noted that it had "received, reviewed, and considered" a letter and additional written comments from Maitland and also had considered the comments he made at his personal appearance before the court. Id. at 4-5.

Pursuant to this second consent decree, in February 1990 the University began a two-year process of distributing $3,000,000 in salary increases to its female academic employees. The increases were calculated according to a formula specified in the consent decree, and each beneficiary received an increase in salary whether her current salary was lower or higher than the salaries of similarly situated males. Male academic employees were not eligible for these increases.

Maitland filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in July 1990, alleging that the University discriminated against him on the basis of his sex when it granted pay increases to its female academic employees pursuant to the terms of the consent decree. The EEOC issued a right-to-sue notice October 15, 1992. Maitland filed his complaint January 11, 1993. The District Court entered summary judgment for the University, holding that Maitland's claims are barred either by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 or by general principles of estoppel. Maitland v. University of Minn., Civ. No. 3-93-91 (D.Minn. July 12, 1993).


We review de novo the granting of a summary judgment motion. Sierra Club v. Robertson, 28 F.3d 753, 760 (8th Cir.1994). We will affirm the judgment if the record shows there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the prevailing party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id.; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

Maitland has not raised any relevant factual disputes that would prevent the entry of summary judgment on the grounds relied upon by the District Court, but he does argue that, as a matter of law, the University is not entitled to summary judgment. Specifically, he contends that the District Court erred in concluding that his cause of action is barred (1) by Sec. 108 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and (2) by general principles of estoppel. We address each of these issues in turn. 2


We deal first with Maitland's argument that the District Court erred by applying Sec. 108 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 retroactively to the University's actions taken pursuant to the consent decree at issue in this case. Section 108 provides in relevant part as follows:

(1)(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of law ... an employment practice that implements and is within the scope of a litigated or consent judgment or order that resolves a claim of employment discrimination under the Constitution or Federal civil rights laws may not be challenged ...

(B) ... (i) by a person who, prior to the entry of the judgment or order ... had--

(I) actual notice of the proposed judgment or order sufficient to apprise such person that such judgment or order might adversely affect the interests and legal rights of such person and that an opportunity was available to present objections to such judgment or order by a future date certain; and

(II) a reasonable opportunity to present objections to such judgment or order....

42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e-2(n)(1) (Supp. V 1993). The Act became effective on the date of its enactment, November 21, 1991. Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub.L. No. 102-166, Sec. 402(a), 105 Stat. 1071, 1099 (1991). The University engaged in the allegedly discriminatory acts prior to the effective date of the Act. 3 Unless Sec. 108 applies to causes of action arising prior to its enactment, Maitland's Title VII action is not barred.

While the Supreme Court has held that Sec. 101 and Sec. 102 of the Act do not apply retroactively, "there is no special reason to think that all the diverse provisions of the Act must be treated uniformly for such purposes." Landgraf v. USI Film Prods., --- U.S. ----, ----, 114 S.Ct. 1483, 1505, 128 L.Ed.2d 229 (1994). We therefore must consider independently whether Sec. 108 applies retroactively to bar Maitland's Title VII action. The Court's opinion in Landgraf, however, provides important guidance for our analysis. See also Fray v. Omaha World Herald Co., 960 F.2d 1370 (8th Cir.1992) (presaging the Court's decision in Landgraf ).

We must determine first whether the statute evinces any clear expression of congressional intent on the application of the statute to cases arising before its enactment. Landgraf, --- U.S. at ----, 114 S.Ct. at 1492; Fray, 960 F.2d at 1375. If the statute clearly reveals Congress's intent that the statute is to apply retroactively, we will give effect to that intent unless such an application would violate the Constitution. If we cannot find any clear congressional intent, we must consider whether the new statute would have a true retroactive effect, 4 i.e., "whether it would impair rights a party possessed when he acted, increase a party's liability for past conduct, or impose new duties with respect to transactions already completed." Landgraf, --- U.S. at ----, 114 S.Ct. at 1505. If we find that the statute would have a true retroactive effect, the "traditional presumption teaches that it does not govern" in cases that arose before the statute became effective. Id. at ----, 114 S.Ct. at 1505; see also Fray, 960 F.2d at 1374 ("Retroactivity is not favored in the law.") (quoting Bowen v. Georgetown Univ. Hosp., 488 U.S. 204, 208, 109 S.Ct. 468, 471, 102 L.Ed.2d 493 (1988)).

We cannot find, and the University does not direct our attention to, any evidence of "clear congressional intent" regarding whether Sec. 108 should apply to cases arising before its enactment. The Supreme Court's analysis in Landgraf of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and its legislative history is largely dispositive. --- U.S. at ---- - ----, 114 S.Ct. at 1489-96. As the Court noted, the only sections of the Act that address its effective date are Sec. 402(a) and (b), and Sec. 109(c), and the Court was not able to decide on the basis of these sections alone whether Congress intended Sec. 102 to apply retroactively. Having analyzed the entire Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Court concluded that the Act contained no "unambiguous directive" at to Sec. 102. Id. at ----, 114 S.Ct. at 1496. The same is true for Sec. 108.

Section 108 is designed to overrule by act of Congress some aspects of the Supreme Court's decision in Martin v. Wilks, 490 U.S. 755, 109 S.Ct. 2180, 104 L.Ed.2d 835 (1989). 5 But "[e]ven when Congress intends to supersede a rule of law embodied in" a Supreme Court decision "with what it views as a better rule established in earlier decisions, its intent to reach conduct preceding the 'corrective' amendment must clearly appear." Rivers v. Roadway Express, Inc., --- U.S. ----, ----, 114 S.Ct. 1510, 1519, 128 L.Ed.2d 274 (1994); see also Fray, 960 F.2d at 1377. A corrective intent is not sufficient to satisfy the clear congressional intent test described in Landgraf.

Because we are unable to find any evidence of clear congressional intent to make Sec. 108 applicable to cases arising before its enactment, the traditional presumption against the retroactive application of statutes comes into play. We...

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