Tafoya v. Adams, Civ. A. No. 84-K-1535.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
Writing for the CourtGeoffrey S. Wasson, Denver, Colo., for defendants
Citation612 F. Supp. 1097
PartiesRobert S. TAFOYA, Plaintiff, v. James ADAMS and the City and County of Denver, Defendants.
Decision Date08 July 1985
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 84-K-1535.

612 F. Supp. 1097

Robert S. TAFOYA, Plaintiff,
v.
James ADAMS and the City and County of Denver, Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 84-K-1535.

United States District Court, D. Colorado.

July 8, 1985.


612 F. Supp. 1098

Paul A. Baca, Denver, Colo., for plaintiff.

Geoffrey S. Wasson, Denver, Colo., for defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

KANE, District Judge.

Plaintiff is a Mexican-American citizen of the United States. In 1980, while employed by the Parks and Recreation Department of the City and County of Denver, he filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After this claim was settled, his supervisor, James Adams, allegedly told plaintiff he was going to "get rid" of him for having filed a charge of discrimination. Plaintiff claims that Adams then engaged in a course of conduct in retaliation for plaintiff's previous charge of discrimination which led to plaintiff's termination on January 20, 1984.

After being terminated, plaintiff filed yet another charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Upon receiving a "Right to Sue" letter, he brought the present action seeking recovery pursuant to the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Civil Rights Acts of 1870 and 1871, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983.

The case is before me on defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. Defendants seek a dismissal of the §§ 1981 and 1983 claims against defendant City and County of Denver and a dismissal of the § 1983 claim against defendant Adams. The first question raised by defendants' motion is one of first impression in the Tenth Circuit: whether Title VII provides the exclusive cause of action which may be pursued in federal courts to remedy alleged violations of rights set forth in Title VII, by state and local governments, thereby precluding relief under §§ 1981 and 1983.

I.

Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discriminatory employment practices on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII provides for a detailed and explicit regulatory scheme. In an attempt to resolve disputes through voluntary compliance, Congress empowered the EEOC to investigate charges of discrimination, promote voluntary conciliation with the requirements of Title VII, and institute civil actions against private entities engaging in employment discrimination.

An aggrieved employee must first file a claim with a state or local employment commission or the EEOC. The statute precludes immediate filing of judicial proceedings in order to encourage conciliation through administrative mechanisms. The EEOC, however, possesses no direct enforcement capacity and must request federal courts to issue injunctive orders and order affirmative relief.

A Title VII suit may be filed by either the EEOC or aggrieved individuals themselves. The time limitations for administrative and judicial filings are limited to insure expedited treatment of a plaintiff's case. Once in court, Title VII provides for injunctive relief, including back pay for a two year period. General and punitive damages are not recoverable. The Act specifically provides for the prevailing party to recover attorney fees. Finally, because of the expedited nature of Title VII judicial proceedings, as well as the limitation to equitable relief, and legislative emphasis on conciliation as distinguished from litigation,

612 F. Supp. 1099
there is no right to trial by jury.1 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5; Great Am. Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Novotny, 442 U.S. 366, 372-75, 99 S.Ct. 2345, 2349-2350, 60 L.Ed.2d 957 (1979); Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 44, 94 S.Ct. 1011, 39 L.Ed.2d 147 (1974)

Section 1981 prohibits discrimination based upon race.2 It provides remedies as well as substantive rights. See Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 421 U.S. 454, 95 S.Ct. 1716, 44 L.Ed.2d 295 (1975). Section 1983, on the other hand, does not create substantive rights. Chapman v. Houston Welfare Rights Organization, 441 U.S. 600, 616-18, 99 S.Ct. 1905, 1915-1916, 60 L.Ed.2d 508 (1979). It provides a remedy for the violation of rights created elsewhere.3 As the Supreme Court made clear in Maine v. Thiboutot, 448 U.S. 1, 100 S.Ct. 2502, 65 L.Ed.2d 555 (1980), § 1983 provides a remedy for actions under color of law which contravene federally protected rights, whether those rights derive from the Constitution or from a federal statute. Thus, independent of Title VII remedies, §§ 1981 and 1983 both provide remedies for racial discrimination by state officials in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. See, e.g., Hazelwood School District v. United States, 433 U.S. 299, 310 n. 15, 97 S.Ct. 2736, 53 L.Ed.2d 768 (1977); Manzanares v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 593 F.2d 968, 971 (10th Cir.1979).

The procedural requirements of §§ 1981 and 1983 are quite different from those of Title VII. To assert a claim under §§ 1981 or 1983, a plaintiff need not exhaust available administrative remedies. Patsy v. Board of Regents of State of Florida, 457 U.S. 496, 102 S.Ct. 2557, 73 L.Ed.2d 172 (1982). In Colorado, §§ 1981 and 1983 are subject to a three year statute of limitations, rather than the Title VII requirements that claims be filed with the EEOC within 180 days "after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred" and with a federal district court within 90 days of the issuance of the "Right to Sue" letter. 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-5(e) and 2000e-(5)(f)(1); McKay v. Hammock, 730 F.2d 1367, 1370 (10th Cir.1984); E.E.O.C. v. Gaddis, 733 F.2d 1373, 1377 (1984); see also Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. ___, 105 S.Ct. 1938, 85 L.Ed.2d 254 (1985). Additionally, remedies under §§ 1981 and 1983 are more expansive than under Title VII. Under §§ 1981 and 1983, a plaintiff may obtain both equitable and legal relief, including compensatory and punitive damages. See Johnson, 421 U.S. 454, 459-60, 95 S.Ct. 1716, 1719-1720, 44 L.Ed.2d 295; Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 256-57 n. 11, 98 S.Ct. 1042, 1048-1049 n. 11, 55 L.Ed.2d 252 (1978).

II.

Discrimination in employment is actionable under the terms of §§ 1981 and 1983

612 F. Supp. 1100
as well as Title VII, and plaintiffs often allege violations of each based upon the same incident. The disparity in the remedies and procedural requirements between these statutes has caused considerable confusion and difficulty. Specifically, if violations of Title VII could be asserted through other, less restrictive statutes, such as §§ 1981 and 1983, the administrative process under Title VII could be completely bypassed. Also, the complainant could obtain remedies and procedural benefits not provided for by Title VII such as punitive damages and a jury trial

In Brown v. General Services Admin., 425 U.S. 820, 96 S.Ct. 1961, 48 L.Ed.2d 402 (1976), the United States Supreme Court expressed this concern as follows:

The balance, completeness, and structural integrity of § 717 of Title VII are inconsistent with the petitioner's contention that the judicial remedy afforded by § 717(c) was designed merely to supplement other putative judicial relief ... Under the petitioner's theory, by perverse operation of a type of Gresham's law, § 717, with its rigorous administrative exhaustion requirements and time limitations, would be driven out of currency were immediate access to the courts under other, less demanding statutes permissible. The crucial administrative role that each agency together with the Civil Service Commission was given by Congress in the eradication of employment discrimination would be eliminated "by the simple expedient of putting a different label on the pleadings." Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 489-90, 36 L.Ed.2d 439, 93 S.Ct. 1827 1836-37 (1973). It would require the suspension of disbelief to ascribe to Congress the design to allow its careful and thorough remedial scheme to be circumvented by artful pleading.

Brown, 425 U.S. 820, 832-33, 96 S.Ct. 1961, 1967-1968. The Court concluded that, in the 1972 amendment to § 717 of Title VII, which deals only with federal employees, Congress intended "to create an exclusive, pre-emptive administrative and judicial scheme for the redress of federal employment discrimination." 425 U.S. 820, 829. Accordingly, the court held that a federal employee claiming job discrimination may proceed only under Title VII, and may not secure additional remedies by proceeding also under § 1981. 425 U.S. 820, 835, 96 S.Ct. 1961, 1969.

Similarly, in Novotny, the Court held that "deprivation of a right created by Title VII cannot be the basis for a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(c)." 442 U.S. 366, 378, 99 S.Ct. 2345. The Court reasoned that such a § 1985(c) action would avoid the comprehensive procedural and remedial purposes of Title VII:

If a violation of Title VII could be asserted through § 1985(c), a complainant could avoid most if not all of these detailed and specific provisions of the law. Section 1985(c) expressly authorizes compensatory damages; punitive damages might well follow. The plaintiff or defendant might demand a jury trial. The short and precise time limitations of Title VII would be grossly altered. Perhaps most importantly, the complainant could completely bypass the administrative process, which plays a crucial role in the scheme established by Congress in Title VII.

Novotny, 442 U.S. 366, 375-76, 99 S.Ct. 2345, 2350-51.

Additionally, in other contexts, the Court has held that § 1983 claims are precluded where another comprehensive statute is violated and provides a remedy. For example, in Middlesex County Sewerage Authority v. National Sea Clammers Ass'n, 453 U.S. 1, 101 S.Ct. 2615, 69 L.Ed.2d 435 (1981), the Court held that the existence of the express remedies in the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq., and the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, 33 U.S.C. § 1401 et seq., demonstrates that Congress intended to supplant any...

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32 practice notes
  • Ungureanu v. A. Teichert & Son, No. CIV S-11-0316 LKK GGH PS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • October 12, 2011
    ...recover damages beyond those available under Title VII unless he shows an independent basis for recovery under § 1981. Tafoya v. Adams, 612 F.Supp. 1097 (D.C. Colo. 1985). 12. For example, refusing to employ someone because he was Romanian ancestry would be prohibited; refusing to employ so......
  • Lipsett v. Rive-Mora, Civ No. 83-1516CC.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • September 16, 1987
    ...Congress in Title VII). See Alexander v. Chicago Park Dist., 773 F.2d 850, 855 (7th Cir.1985), Day, 749 F.2d at 1204; Tafoya v. Adams, 612 F.Supp. 1097 and cases cited at pp. 1099-1103 In the present case, plaintiff has never channelled her claim under Title VII. She has never filed an admi......
  • Minority Police Officers v. City of South Bend, No. S 81-402
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • September 5, 1985
    ...Title VII against state and local employers. Trigg v. Fort Wayne Community Schools, 766 F.2d 299 (7th Cir. 1985); Cf. Tafoya v. Adams, 612 F.Supp. 1097 (D.Colo.1985) (Title VII exclusive remedy); see also Jenkins v. Blue Cross Mut. Hospital Ins., Inc., 538 F.2d 164 (7th Cir.1976) (42 U.S.C.......
  • Straka v. Francis, No. 94 C 3236.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • October 14, 1994
    ...Shager v. Upjohn Co., 913 F.2d 398 (7th Cir.1990). Plaintiffs attempt to rely on the third proposition by citing to Tafoya v. Adams, 612 F.Supp. 1097, 1104 (D.C.Colo.1985), in which the court noted, "Officials and supervisors having responsibility and power to employ personnel and to contro......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
32 cases
  • Ungureanu v. A. Teichert & Son, No. CIV S-11-0316 LKK GGH PS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • October 12, 2011
    ...recover damages beyond those available under Title VII unless he shows an independent basis for recovery under § 1981. Tafoya v. Adams, 612 F.Supp. 1097 (D.C. Colo. 1985). 12. For example, refusing to employ someone because he was Romanian ancestry would be prohibited; refusing to employ so......
  • Lipsett v. Rive-Mora, Civ No. 83-1516CC.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • September 16, 1987
    ...Congress in Title VII). See Alexander v. Chicago Park Dist., 773 F.2d 850, 855 (7th Cir.1985), Day, 749 F.2d at 1204; Tafoya v. Adams, 612 F.Supp. 1097 and cases cited at pp. 1099-1103 In the present case, plaintiff has never channelled her claim under Title VII. She has never filed an admi......
  • Minority Police Officers v. City of South Bend, No. S 81-402
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • September 5, 1985
    ...Title VII against state and local employers. Trigg v. Fort Wayne Community Schools, 766 F.2d 299 (7th Cir. 1985); Cf. Tafoya v. Adams, 612 F.Supp. 1097 (D.Colo.1985) (Title VII exclusive remedy); see also Jenkins v. Blue Cross Mut. Hospital Ins., Inc., 538 F.2d 164 (7th Cir.1976) (42 U.S.C.......
  • Straka v. Francis, No. 94 C 3236.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • October 14, 1994
    ...Shager v. Upjohn Co., 913 F.2d 398 (7th Cir.1990). Plaintiffs attempt to rely on the third proposition by citing to Tafoya v. Adams, 612 F.Supp. 1097, 1104 (D.C.Colo.1985), in which the court noted, "Officials and supervisors having responsibility and power to employ personnel and to contro......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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