Sagers v. Yellow Freight System, Inc.

Citation38 A.L.R.Fed. 1,529 F.2d 721
Decision Date02 April 1976
Docket NumberNo. 74--3617,74--3617
Parties12 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 961, 38 A.L.R.Fed. 1, 11 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 10,811 Richard B. SAGERS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. YELLOW FREIGHT SYSTEM, INC., Defendant-Appellee, v. TRUCK DRIVERS AND HELPERS, LOCAL UNION NO. 728 et al., Defendants-Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

L. N. D. Wells, Jr., Dallas, Tex., for defendants-appellants.

Robert L. Mitchell, Atlanta, Ga., for Local 728, Intern'l & Sout. Con.

Jack Greenberg, Morris J. Baller, Barry L. Goldstein, New York City, O. Peter Sherwood, Brooklyn, N.Y., John R. Myer, Atlanta, Ga., for Sagers.

Charles Kelso, Atlanta, Ga., for Yellow Frt.

Gerald D. Letwin, EEOC, Washington, D.C., amicus curiae.

Henry M. Rosenblum, Robert B. O'Keefe, Houston, Tex., for Stowers, and others, plaintiffs.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Before WISDOM, GEWIN and AINSWORTH, Circuit Judges.

WISDOM, Circuit Judge:

This case is one more in a spate of lawsuits 1 brought by minority truck At the outset it should be noted that of the original defendants, only the unions appealed the judgment below. The defendant-employer, Yellow Freight, here sides with the plaintiffs in urging this Court to affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment. Although denying that the company ever intentionally engaged in discriminatory employment practices, Yellow Freight apparently recognizes that its hiring and transfer policies have already been held to violate Title VII and § 1981. 4 Accordingly,

                drivers against their employers and union representatives, charging racial discrimination in hiring practices and transfer policies, in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, 2 et seq. and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.  3 The instant case, brought against Yellow Freight as a class action by black employees represented by the Teamsters Union, presents many facts virtually identical to those adjudicated by this Court in previous decisions.  What distinguishes this case is that it comes before the Court on appeal from a grant of summary judgment for the plaintiffs.  We recognize, as the district court did, that summary judgment is rarely given in complex cases charging racial discrimination in employment.  Nonetheless, we agree with the district judge that the unrefuted evidence presented by the plaintiffs, as well as recent cases resolving many of the legal issues, made the instant case appropriate for summary disposition.  We further hold that the district court's refusal to dismiss the International union and its decision to assess plaintiffs' attorneys' fees against the two defendants were entirely proper.  We affirm the judgment below
                to avoid prolonged litigation and to 'get on with the job of operating its business without regard to race of its employees', Yellow Freight urges affirmance of the summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.  5 Only the unions and certain unnamed class members contest the judgment below
A. Defendants' Discriminatory Practices.

Plaintiff Sagers brought the complaint on behalf of the class of black employees of Yellow Freight working within the Southern Conference 6 of Teamsters. He alleged that the company had systematically discriminated against black employees by refusing to hire them in the well-paying position of road driver, 7 and by refusing to permit any employee, black or white, to transfer from the less lucrative position of city driver to road driver without first resigning from the city position. Although the 'no-transfer' policy was applied to both black and white employees, 8 its discriminatory effect was felt only by blacks: a white employee, having acquired the experience and expertise necessary to qualify for an over-the-road Additionally, the plaintiffs urged that the unions' maintenance of separate seniority lists for individual bargaining units and their policy of refusing to grant 'carryover seniority' 10 for employees who moved from one company bargaining unit to another, perpetuated the discriminatory effect of Yellow Freight's hiring policies even after such policies has ceased. 11 Seniority under the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the unions was calculated according to individual bargaining units: since city drivers and road drivers were in separate bargaining units, an employee who moved from city to road lost any seniority rights accumulated during his years as a city driver. 12 This policy too, though facially neutral, effectively discriminated against black employees by perpetuating the effects of the company's past discriminatory hiring practices. While white drivers could resign from city positions and begin to accumulate seniority rights as road drivers from the moment they qualified for that position, black employees, locked into their city positions by the company's refusal to hire them in road positions, had no such opportunity. Even when the company began to hire blacks in over-the-road positions, the unions' refusal to permit In sum, the plaintiffs alleged that Yellow Freight's initial refusal to hire blacks as road drivers established a pattern and practice of racial discrimination in violation of Title VII and § 1981, and that the company's continued 'no-transfer' policy, when coupled with the unions' refusal to permit carryover of seniority from city to road positions, perpetuated the effects of such discriminatory practices even after the practices had ceased.

position, 9 could resign from his city position in the reasonable anticipation that he would be rehired as a road driver; the equally qualified black employee, desirous of employment in a road position, harbored no such illusions. Aware of the company's policy of refusing to hire blacks as road drivers, he dared not resign his secure position as a city driver. Thus, the plaintiffs alleged, black city drivers were effectively locked into their less well paying positions, assured by the company practices that any attempt to gain more lucrative employment as road drivers would be futile carryover of seniority from city to road operated as a barrier to blacks who had accumulated seniority in their city positions, to transfer to road positions where their previously earned seniority rights would be lost.


Proceedings in the District Court.

The district court agreed with these contentions. In its order of September 28, 1973, granting partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, it found that: (1) Yellow Freight had in the past excluded blacks from the position of road driver on the basis of race, (2) the no-transfer policies of Yellow Freight and the unions' maintenance of separate seniority lists for city and road driver bargaining units violated Title VII and § 1981, and (3) the plaintiffs were entitled to relief from the defendants' unlawful practices, including modification of the no-transfer rule and applicable seniority provisions.

In its extensive and carefully documented order, the district court articulated its reasons for invoking the summary judgment provisions of rule 56. 13 The court was well aware that the movant carried the burden of showing that no genuine issue as to a material fact existed. Shahid v. Gulf Power Co., 5 Cir. 1961, 291 F.2d 422, 423. Nonetheless, the district judge found that the unrefuted evidence adduced by the plaintiffs, when considered in light of the recent pronouncements of this Court in similar cases of alleged racial discrimination in employment, justified the grant of summary judgment. 14

The district court's finding that the employer Yellow Freight had engaged in a pattern and practice of excluding blacks from the position of road driver was based almost exclusively on statistical evidence. These statistics, furnished by the company and undisputed by the unions, established that before July 1968, Yellow Freight had only one black road driver throughout its nationwide system (in which it employed more than 8400 persons) and none in the Southern Conference. They further established that plaintiff Sagers was the first black road driver hired in the Southern Conference in November 1969, and that no black road drivers were hired after Sagers until 1971. In addition to this statistical evidence, the plaintiffs produced testimonial and documentary evidence, including admissions by company officials, that until 1967 the company's primary source of recruits for road driver jobs was referrals from white employees already with the company, 15 and that local managers 'simply were not hiring blacks for road driver jobs.'

None of the evidence was disputed. Relying on recent cases from this circuit and others, the court noted that a prima facie case of racial discrimination may be established by statistical evidence alone, and that a violation of Title VII may be established by statistics as a matter of law. 16 In the instant case, the statistics and practices were virtually identical to those presented in earlier cases decided by this Court and other courts. Bing v. Roadway Express, Inc., 5 Cir. 1971, 444 F.2d 687; Witherspoon v. Mercury Freight Lines, Inc., 5 Cir. 1972, 457 F.2d 496; Jones v. Lee Way Motor Freight, 10 Cir. 1970, 431 F.2d 245, cert. denied, 1971, 401 U.S. 954, 91 S.Ct. 972, 28 L.Ed.2d 237. On the basis of the unrefuted statistics, the admissions of company officials, and recent cases invalidating similar practices, the court found Yellow Freight's past hiring practices indicative of a pattern and practice of racial discrimination in violation of Title VII and § 1981. On the same type of unrefuted statistical, testimonial, and documentary evidence, the court found, as a matter of law, that the combined effect of the company's no-transfer policy and the unions' maintenance of separate seniority lists with no carryover of seniority from city to road bargaining units, constituted an unfair employment practice under ...

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