Albemarle Paper Co. v. MoodyAnnotate this Case
422 U.S. 405 (1975)
U.S. Supreme Court
Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405 (1975)
Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody
Argued April 14, 1975
Decided June 25, 1975
422 U.S. 405
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
Respondents, a certified class of present and former Negro employees, brought this action against petitioners, their employer, Albemarle Paper Co., and the employees' union, seeking injunctive relief against "any policy, practice, custom or usage" at the plant violative of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, and, after several years of discovery, moved to add a class backpay demand. At the trial, the major issues were the plant's seniority system, its program of employment testing, and backpay. The District Court found that, following a reorganization under a new collective bargaining agreement, the Negro employees had been "locked' in the lower paying job classifications," and ordered petitioners to implement a system of plantwide seniority. The court refused, however, to order backpay for losses sustained by the plaintiff class under the discriminatory system, on the grounds that (1) Albemarle's breach of Title VII was found not to have been in "bad faith," and (2) respondents, who had initially disclaimed interest in backpay, had delayed making their backpay claim until five years after the complaint was filed, thereby prejudicing petitioners. The court also refused to enjoin or limit Albemarle's testing program, which respondents had contended had a disproportionate adverse impact on blacks and was not shown to be related to job performance, the court concluding that "personnel tests administered at the plant have undergone validation studies and have been proven to be job-related." Respondents appealed on the backpay and pre-employment tests issues. The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's judgment.
1. Given a finding of unlawful discrimination, backpay should be denied only for reasons that, if applied generally, would not frustrate the central statutory purposes manifested by Congress in enacting Title VII of eradicating discrimination throughout the
economy and making persons whole for injuries suffered through past discrimination. Pp. 422 U. S. 413-422.
2. The absence of bad faith is not a sufficient reason for denying backpay, Title VII not being concerned with the employer's "good intent or absence of discriminatory intent," for "Congress directed the thrust of the Act to the consequences of employment practices, not simply the motivation," Griggs v. Duke Power Co.,401 U. S. 424, 401 U. S. 432. Pp. 422 U. S. 422-423.
3. Whether respondents' tardiness and inconsistency in making their backpay demand were excusable and whether they actually prejudiced petitioners are matters that will be open to review by the Court of Appeals if the District Court, on remand, decides again to decline a backpay award. Pp. 422 U. S. 423-425.
4. As is clear from Griggs, supra, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Guidelines for employers seeking to determine through professional validation studies whether employment tests are job-related, such tests are impermissible unless shown, by professionally acceptable methods, to be
"predictive of or significantly correlated with important elements of work behavior which comprise or are relevant to the job or jobs for which candidates are being evaluated."
Measured against that standard, Albemarle's validation study is materially defective in that (1) it would not, because of the odd patchwork of results from its application, have "validated" the two general ability tests used by Albemarle for all the skilled lines of progression for which the two tests are, apparently, now required; (2) it compared test scores with subjective supervisorial rankings, affording no means of knowing what job performance criteria the supervisors were considering; (3) it focused mostly on job groups near the top of various lines of progression, but the fact that the best of those employees working near the top of a line of progression score well on a test does not necessarily mean that the test permissibly measures the qualifications of new workers entering lower level jobs; and (4) it dealt only with job-experienced, white workers, but the tests themselves are given to new job applicants, who are younger, largely inexperienced, and in many instances nonwhite. Pp. 422 U. S. 425-435.
5. In view of the facts that, during the appellate stages of this litigation, Albemarle has apparently been amending its departmental organization and the use made of its tests; that issues of standards of proof for job-relatedness and of evidentiary procedures involving validation tests have not until now, been clarified;
and that provisional use of tests pending new validation effort may be authorized, the District Court, on remand, should initially fashion the necessary relief. P. 422 U. S. 436.
474 F.2d 134, vacated and remanded.
STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., post, p. 422 U. S. 440, and REHNQUIST, J., post, p. 422 U. S. 441, filed concurring opinions. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 422 U. S. 447. BURGER, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 422 U. S. 449. POWELL, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the cases.
MR JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.
These consolidated cases raise two important questions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, 86 Stat. 103, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. III): First: when employees or applicants for employment have lost the opportunity to earn wages because an employer has engaged in an unlawful discriminatory employment practice, what standards should a federal district court follow in deciding whether to award or deny backpay? Second: what must an employer show to establish that pre-employment tests racially discriminatory in effect, though not in intent, are sufficiently "job-related" to survive challenge under Title VII?
The respondents -- plaintiffs in the District Court -- are a certified class of present and former Negro employees at a paper mill in Roanoke Rapids, N.C.; the petitioners -- defendants in the District Court -- are the plant's owner, the Albemarle Paper Co., and the plant employees' labor union, Halifax Local No. 425. [Footnote 1] In August, 1966, after filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and receiving notice of their right to sue, [Footnote 2] the
respondents brought a class action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, asking permanent injunctive relief against "any policy, practice, custom or usage" at the plant that violated Title VII. The respondents assured the court that the suit involved no claim for any monetary awards on a class basis, but, in June, 1970, after several years of discovery, the respondents moved to add a class demand for backpay. The court ruled that this issue would be considered at trial.
At the trial, in July and August, 1971, the major issues were the plant's seniority system, its program of employment testing, and the question of backpay. In its opinion of November 9, 1971, the court found that the petitioners had "strictly segregated" the plant's departmental "lines of progression" prior to January 1, 1964, reserving the higher paying and more skilled lines for whites. The "racial identifiability" of whole lines of progression persisted until 1968, when the lines were reorganized under a new collective bargaining agreement. The court found, however, that this reorganization left Negro employees "locked' in the lower paying job classifications." The formerly "Negro" lines of progression had been merely tacked on to the bottom of the formerly "white" lines, and promotions, demotions, and layoffs continued to be governed -- where skills were "relatively equal" -- by a system of "job seniority." Because of the plant's previous history of overt segregation, only whites had seniority in the higher job categories. Accordingly, the court ordered the petitioners to implement a system of "plantwide" seniority.
The court refused, however, to award backpay to the plaintiff class for losses suffered under the "job seniority" program. [Footnote 3] The court explained:
"In the instant case, there was no evidence of bad faith noncompliance with the Act. It appears that the company, as early as 1964, began active recruitment of blacks for its Maintenance Apprentice Program. Certain lines of progression were merged on its own initiative, and as judicial decisions expanded the then existing interpretations of the Act, the defendants took steps to correct the abuses without delay. . . ."
"In addition, an award of back pay is an equitable remedy. . . . The plaintiffs' claim for back pay was filed nearly five years after the institution of this action. It was not prayed for in the pleadings. Although neither party can be charged with deliberate dilatory tactics in bringing this cause to trial, it is apparent that the defendants would be substantially prejudiced by the granting of such affirmative relief. The defendants might have chosen to exercise unusual zeal in having this court determine their rights at an earlier date had they known that back pay would be at issue."
The court also refused to enjoin or limit Albemarle's testing program. Albemarle had required applicants for employment in the skilled lines of progression to have a high school diploma and to pass two tests, the Revised Beta Examination, allegedly a measure of nonverbal intelligence,
and the Wonderlic Personnel Test (available in alternative Forms A and B), allegedly a measure of verbal facility. After this Court's decision in Griggs v. Duke Power Co.,401 U. S. 424 (1971), and on the eve of trial, Albemarle engaged an industrial psychologist to study the "job-relatedness" of its testing program. His study compared the test scores of current employees with supervisorial judgments of their competence in ten job groupings selected from the middle or top of the plant's skilled lines of progression. The study showed a statistically significant correlation with supervisorial ratings in three job groupings for the Beta Test, in seven job groupings for either Form A or Form B of the Wonderlic Test, and in two job groupings for the required battery of both the Beta and the Wonderlic Tests. [Footnote 4] The respondents' experts challenged the reliability of these studies, but the court concluded:
"The personnel tests administered at the plant have undergone validation studies and have been proven to be job-related. The defendants have carried the burden of proof in proving that these tests are 'necessary for the safe and efficient operation of the business,' and are, therefore, permitted by the Act. However, the high school education requirement used in conjunction with the testing requirements is unlawful in that the personnel tests alone are adequate to measure the mental ability and reading skills required for the job classifications."
The petitioners did not seek review of the court's judgment, but the respondents appealed the denial of a backpay award and the refusal to enjoin or limit Albemarle's use of pre-employment tests. A divided Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed the judgment of
the District Court, ruling that backpay should have been awarded and that use of the tests should have been enjoined, 474 F.2d 134 (1973). As for backpay, the Court of Appeals held that an award could properly be requested after the complaint was filed, and that an award could not be denied merely because the employer had not acted in "bad faith," id. at 142:
"Because of the compensatory nature of a back pay award and the strong congressional policy embodied in Title VII, a district court must exercise its discretion as to back pay in the same manner it must exercise discretion as to attorney fees under Title II of the Civil Rights Act. . . . Thus, a plaintiff or a complaining class who is successful in obtaining an injunction under Title VII of the Act should ordinarily be awarded back pay unless special circumstances would render such an award unjust. Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises,390 U. S. 400 . . . (1968)."
(Footnote omitted.) As for the pre-employment tests, the Court of Appeals held, id. at 138, that it was error
"to approve a validation study done without job analysis, to allow Albemarle to require tests for 6 lines of progression where there has been no validation study at all, and to allow Albemarle to require a person to pass two tests for entrance into 7 lines of progression when only one of those tests was validated for that line of progression."
In so holding, the Court of Appeals "gave great deference" to the "Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures," 29 CFR pt. 1607, which the EEOC has issued
"as a workable set of standards for employers, unions and employment agencies in determining whether their selection
procedures conform with the obligations contained in title VII. . . ."
29 CFR § 1607.1(c).
We granted certiorari [Footnote 5] because of an evident Circuit conflict as to the standards governing awards of backpay [Footnote 6] and as to the showing required to establish the "job-relatedness" of pre-employment tests. [Footnote 7]
Whether a particular member of the plaintiff class should have been awarded any backpay and, if so, how much, are questions not involved in this review. The equities of individual cases were never reached. Though at least some of the members of the plaintiff class obviously suffered a loss of wage opportunities on account of Albemarle's unlawfully discriminatory system of job seniority, the District Court decided that no backpay should be awarded to anyone in the class. The court declined to make such an award on two stated grounds: the lack of "evidence of bad faith noncompliance with the Act," and the fact that "the defendants would be substantially prejudiced" by an award of backpay that was demanded contrary to an earlier representation and late in the progress of the litigation. Relying directly
on Newman v. Pigge Park Enterprises,390 U. S. 400 (1968), the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that backpay could be denied only in "special circumstances." The petitioners argue that the Court of Appeals was in error -- that a district court has virtually unfettered discretion to award or deny backpay, and that there was no abuse of that discretion here. [Footnote 8]
Piggie Park Enterprises, supra, is not directly in point. The Court held there that attorneys' fees should "ordinarily" be awarded -- i.e., in all but "special circumstances" -- to plaintiffs successful in obtaining injunctions against discrimination in public accommodations, under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the Act appears to leave Title II fee awards to the district court's discretion, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a-3(b), the court determined that the great public interest in having injunctive actions brought could be vindicated only if successful plaintiffs, acting as "private attorneys general," were awarded attorneys' fees in all but very unusual circumstances. There is, of course, an equally strong public interest in having injunctive actions brought under Title VII, to eradicate discriminatory employment practices. But this interest can be vindicated by applying the Piggie Park standard to the attorneys' fees provision of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e 5(k), see Northcross v. Memphis Board of Education,412 U. S. 427, 412 U. S. 428 (1973). For guidance as to the granting and denial of backpay, one must, therefore, look elsewhere.
The petitioners contend that the statutory scheme provides no guidance, beyond indicating that backpay awards are within the District Court's discretion. We disagree. It is true that backpay is not an automatic or mandatory remedy; like all other remedies under the Act, it is one which the courts "may" invoke. [Footnote 9] The
scheme implicitly recognizes that there may be cases calling for one remedy but not another, and -- owing to the structure of the federal judiciary -- these choices are, of course, left in the first instance to the district courts. However, such discretionary choices are not left to a court's "inclination, but to its judgment, and its judgment is to be guided by sound legal principles." United States v. Burr, 25 F.Cas. 30, 35 (No. 14,692d) (CC Va. 1807) (Marshall, C.J.). The power to award backpay was bestowed by Congress, as part of a complex legislative design directed at a historic evil of national proportions. A court must exercise this power "in light of the large objectives of the Act," Hecht Co. v. Bowles,321 U. S. 321, 321 U. S. 331 (1944). That the court's discretion is equitable in nature, see Curtis v. Loether,415 U. S. 189, 415 U. S. 197 (1974), hardly means that it is unfettered by meaningful standards or shielded from thorough appellate review. In Mitchell v. DeMario Jewelry,361 U. S. 288, 361 U. S. 292 (1960), this Court held, in the face of a silent statute, that district courts enjoyed the "historic power of equity" to award lost wages to workmen unlawfully discriminated
against under § 17 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 52 Stat. 1069, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 217 (1958 ed.). The Court simultaneously noted that "the statutory purposes [leave] little room for the exercise of discretion not to order reimbursement." 361 U.S. at 361 U. S. 296.
It is true that "[e]quity eschews mechanical rules . . . [and] depends on flexibility." Holmberg v. Armbrecht,327 U. S. 392, 327 U. S. 396 (1946). But when Congress invokes the Chancellor's conscience to further transcendent legislative purposes, what is required is the principled application of standards consistent with those purposes and not "equity [which] varies like the Chancellor's foot." [Footnote 10] Important national goals would be frustrated by a regime of discretion that "produce[d] different results for breaches of duty in situations that cannot be differentiated in policy." Moragne v. States Marine Lines,398 U. S. 375, 398 U. S. 405 (1970).
The District Court's decision must therefore be measured against the purposes which inform Title VII. As the Court observed in Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. at 401 U. S. 429-430, the primary objective was a prophylactic one:
"It was to achieve equality of employment opportunities and remove barriers that have operated in the past to favor an identifiable group of white employees over other employees."
Backpay has an obvious connection with this purpose. If employers faced only the prospect of an injunctive order, they would have little incentive to shun practices of dubious legality. It is the reasonably certain prospect of a backpay award that
"provide[s] the spur or catalyst
which causes employers and unions to self-examine and to self-evaluate their employment practices and to endeavor to eliminate, so far as possible, the last vestiges of an unfortunate and ignominious page in this country's history."
United States v. N. L. Industries, Inc., 479 F.2d 354, 379 (CA8 1973).
It is also the purpose of Title VII to make persons whole for injuries suffered on account of unlawful employment discrimination. This is shown by the very fact that Congress took care to arm the courts with full equitable powers. For it is the historic purpose of equity to "secur[e] complete justice," Brown v. Swann, 10 Pet. 497, 35 U. S. 503 (1836); see also Porter v. Warner Holding Co.,328 U. S. 395, 328 U. S. 397-398 (1946).
"[W]here federally protected rights have been invaded, it has been the rule from the beginning that courts will be alert to adjust their remedies so as to grant the necessary relief."
Bell v. Hood,327 U. S. 678, 327 U. S. 684 (1946). Title VII deals with legal injuries of an economic character occasioned by racial or other anti-minority discrimination. The terms "complete justice" and "necessary relief" have acquired a clear meaning in such circumstances. Where racial discrimination is concerned,
"the [district] court has not merely the power but the duty to render a decree which will, so far as possible, eliminate the discriminatory effects of the past as well as bar like discrimination in the future."
"[t]he general rule is that, when a wrong has been done and the law gives a remedy, the compensation shall be equal to the injury. The latter is the standard by which the former is to be measured. The injured party is to be placed, as near as may be, in
the situation he would have occupied if the wrong had not been committed."
The "make whole" purpose of Title VII is made evident by the legislative history. The backpay provision was expressly modeled on the backpay provision of the National Labor Relations Act. [Footnote 11] Under that Act,
"[m]aking the workers whole for loses suffered on account of an unfair labor practice is part of the vindication of the public policy which the Board enforces."
Phelps Dodge Corp. v. NLRB,313 U. S. 177, 313 U. S. 197 (1941). See also Nathanson v. NLRB,344 U. S. 25, 344 U. S. 27 (1952); NLRB v. Rutter-Rex Mfg. Co.,396 U. S. 258, 396 U. S. 263 (1969). We may assume that Congress was aware that the Board,
since its inception, has awarded backpay as a matter of course -- not randomly or in the exercise of a standardless discretion, and not merely where employer violations are peculiarly deliberate, egregious, or inexcusable. [Footnote 12] Furthermore, in passing the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, Congress considered several bills to limit the judicial power to award backpay. These limiting efforts were rejected, and the backpay provision was reenacted substantially in its original form. [Footnote 13] A Section-by-Section Analysis introduced by Senator Williams to accompany the Conference Committee Report on the 1972 Act
strongly reaffirmed the "make whole" purpose of Title VII:
"The provisions of this subsection are intended to give the courts wide discretion exercising their equitable powers to fashion the most complete relief possible. In dealing with the present section 706(g), the courts have stressed that the scope of relief under that section of the Act is intended to make the victims of unlawful discrimination whole, and that the attainment of this objective rests not only upon the elimination of the particular unlawful employment practice complained of, but also requires that persons aggrieved by the consequences and effects of the unlawful employment practice be, so far as possible, restored to a position where they would have been were it not for the unlawful discrimination."
118 Cong.Rec. 7168 (1972). As this makes clear, Congress' purpose in vesting a variety of "discretionary" powers in the courts was not to limit appellate review of trial courts, or to invite inconsistency and caprice, but rather to make possible the "fashion[ing] [of] the most complete relief possible."
It follows that, given a finding of unlawful discrimination, backpay should be denied only for reasons which, if applied generally, would not frustrate the central statutory purposes of eradicating discrimination throughout the economy and making persons whole for injuries suffered through past discrimination. [Footnote 14] The courts of appeals must maintain a consistent and principled application of the backpay provision, consonant with the twin statutory objectives, while at the same time recognizing that the trial court will often have the keener appreciation
of those facts and circumstances peculiar to particular cases.
The District Court's stated grounds for denying backpay in this case must be tested against these standards. The first ground was that Albemarle's breach of Title VII had not been in "bad faith." [Footnote 15] This is not a sufficient reason for denying backpay. Where an employer has shown bad faith -- by maintaining a practice which he knew to be illegal or of highly questionable legality -- he can make no claims whatsoever on the Chancellor's conscience. But, under Title VII, the mere absence of bad faith simply opens the door to equity; it does not depress the scales in the employer's favor. If backpay were awardable only upon a showing of bad faith, the remedy would become a punishment for moral turpitude, rather than a compensation for workers' injuries. This would read the "make whole" purpose right out of Title VII, for a worker's injury is no less real simply because his employer did not inflict it in "bad faith." [Footnote 16] Title VII is not concerned with the employer's "good intent or absence of discriminatory intent," for "Congress directed the thrust of the Act to the consequences of employment practices, not simply the motivation." Griggs v. Duke
Power Co., 401 U.S. at 401 U. S. 432. See also Watson v. City of Memphis,373 U. S. 526, 373 U. S. 535 (1963); Wright v. Council of City of Emporia,407 U. S. 451, 407 U. S. 461-462 (1972). [Footnote 17] To condition the awarding of backpay on a showing of "bad faith" would be to open an enormous chasm between injunctive and backpay relief under Title VII. There is nothing on the face of the statute or in its legislative history that justifies the creation of drastic and categorical distinctions between those two remedies. [Footnote 18]
The District Court also grounded its denial of backpay on the fact that the respondents initially disclaimed any interest in backpay, first asserting their claim five years after the complaint was filed. The court concluded that the petitioners had been "prejudiced" by this conduct. The Court of Appeals reversed on the ground
"that the broad aims of Title VII require that the issue of back pay be fully developed and determined even though it was not raised until the post-trial stage of litigation,"
474 F.2d at 141.
It is true that Title VII contains no legal bar to raising backpay claims after the complaint for injunctive relief has been filed, or indeed after a trial on that complaint has been had. [Footnote 19] Furthermore, Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 54(c) directs that
"every final judgment shall grant the relief to which the party in whose favor it is rendered is entitled, even if the party has not demanded such relief in his pleadings."
But a party may not be "entitled" to relief if its conduct of the cause has improperly and substantially prejudiced the other party. The respondents here were not merely tardy, but also inconsistent, in demanding backpay. To deny backpay because a particular cause has been prosecuted in an eccentric fashion, prejudicial to the other party, does not offend the broad purposes of Title VII. This is not to say, however, that the District Court's ruling was necessarily correct. Whether the petitioners were, in fact, prejudiced, and whether the respondents' trial conduct was excusable, are questions that will be open to review by the Court of Appeals if the District Court, on remand, decides again to decline to make any award of backpay. [Footnote 20] But the standard of review will be the familiar one of whether the District Court was "clearly erroneous" in its factual findings and whether it "abused" its traditional discretion to locate "a just result" in light of the circumstances peculiar to the case,
In Griggs v. Duke Power Co.,401 U. S. 424 (1971), this Court unanimously held that Title VII forbids the use of employment tests that are discriminatory in effect unless the employer meets "the burden of showing that any given requirement [has] . . . a manifest relationship to the employment in question." Id. at 401 U. S. 432. [Footnote 21] This burden arises, of course, only after the complaining party or class has made out a prima facie case of discrimination, i.e., has shown that the tests in question select applicants for hire or promotion in a racial pattern significantly different from that of the pool of applicants. See McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green,411 U. S. 792, 411 U. S. 802 (1973). If an employer does then meet the burden of proving that its tests are "job-related," it remains open to the complaining party to show that other tests or selection devices, without a similarly undesirable racial effect, would also serve the employer's legitimate interest in "efficient and trustworthy workmanship." Id. at 411 U. S. 801. Such a showing would be evidence that the employer was using its tests merely as a "pretext" for discrimination. Id. at 411 U. S. 804-805. In the present case, however, we are concerned only with the question whether Albemarle has shown its tests to be job-related.
The concept of job-relatedness takes on meaning from the facts of the Griggs case. A power company in North Carolina had reserved its skilled jobs for whites prior to 1965. Thereafter, the company allowed Negro workers to transfer to skilled jobs, but all transferees -- white and Negro -- were required to attain national median scores on two tests:
"[T]he Wonderlic Personnel Test, which purports to measure general intelligence, and the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test. Neither was directed or intended to measure the ability to learn to perform a particular job or category of jobs. . . ."
"* * * *"
". . . Both were adopted, as the Court of Appeals noted, without meaningful study of their relationship to job performance ability. Rather, a vice-president of the Company testified, the requirements were instituted on the Company's judgment that they generally would improve the overall quality of the workforce."
401 U.S. at 401 U. S. 428-431. The Court took note of
"the inadequacy of broad and general testing devices as well as the infirmity of using diplomas or degrees as fixed measures of capability,"
id. at 401 U. S. 433, and concluded:
"Nothing in the Act precludes the use of testing or measuring procedures; obviously they are useful. What Congress has forbidden is giving these devices and mechanisms controlling force unless they are demonstrably a reasonable measure of job performance. . . . What Congress has commanded is that any tests used must measure the person for the job and not the person in the abstract."
Id. at 401 U. S. 436.
Like the employer in Griggs, Albemarle uses two general ability tests, the Beta Examination, to test nonverbal intelligence, and the Wonderlic Test (Forms A and B), the purported measure of general verbal facility which was also involved in the Griggs case. Applicants for hire into various skilled lines of progression at the plant are required to score 100 on the Beta Exam and 18 on one of the Wonderlic Test's two alternative forms. [Footnote 22]
The question of job-relatedness must be viewed in the context of the plant's operation and the history of the testing program. The plant, which now employs about 650 persons, converts raw wood into paper products. It is organized into a number of functional departments, each with one or more distinct lines of progression, the theory being that workers can move up the line as they acquire the necessary skills. The number and structure of the lines have varied greatly over time. For many years, certain lines were themselves more skilled and paid higher wages than others, and, until 1964, these skilled lines were expressly reserved for white workers. In 1968, many of the unskilled "Negro" lines were "end-tailed" onto skilled "white" lines, but it apparently remains true that at least the top jobs in certain lines require greater skills than the top jobs in other lines. In this sense, at least, it is still possible to speak of relatively skilled and relatively unskilled lines.
In the 1950's, while the plant was being modernized with new and more sophisticated equipment, the Company introduced a high school diploma requirement for entry into the skilled lines. Though the Company soon concluded that this requirement did not improve the quality of the labor force, the requirement was continued
until the District Court enjoined its use. In the late 1950's, the Company began using the Beta Examination and the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test (also involved in the Griggs case) to screen applicants for entry into the skilled lines. The Bennett Test was dropped several years later, but use of the Beta Test continued. [Footnote 23]
The Company added the Wonderlic Tests in 1963, for the skilled lines, on the theory that a certain verbal intelligence was called for by the increasing sophistication of the plant's operations. The Company made no attempt to validate the test for job-relatedness, [Footnote 24] and simply adopted the national "norm" score of 18 as a cut-off point for new job applicants. After 1964, when it discontinued overt segregation in the lines of progression,
the Company allowed Negro workers to transfer to the skilled lines if they could pass the Beta and Wonderlic Tests, but few succeeded in doing so. Incumbents in the skilled lines, some of whom had been hired before adoption of the tests, were not required to pass them to retain their jobs or their promotion rights. The record shows that a number of white incumbents in high-ranking job groups could not pass the tests. [Footnote 25]
Because departmental reorganization continued up to the point of trial, and has indeed continued since that point, the details of the testing program are less than clear from the record. The District Court found that, since 1963, the Beta and Wonderlic Tests have been used in 13 lines of progression, within eight departments. Albemarle contends that, at present, the tests are used in only eight lines of progression, within four departments.
Four months before this case went to trial, Albemarle engaged an expert in industrial psychology to "validate" the job-relatedness of its testing program. He spent a half day at the plant and devised a "concurrent validation" study, which was conducted by plant officials, without his supervision. The expert then subjected the results to statistical analysis. The study dealt with 10 job groupings, selected from near the top of nine of the
lines of progression. [Footnote 26] Jobs were grouped together solely by their proximity in the line of progression; no attempt was made to analyze jobs in terms of the particular skills they might require. All, or nearly all, employees in the selected groups participated in the study -- 105 employees in all, but only four Negroes. Within each job grouping, the study compared the test scores of each employee with an independent "ranking" of the employee, relative to each of his coworkers, made by two of the employee's supervisors. The supervisors, who did not know the test scores, were asked to
"determine which ones they felt irrespective of the job that they were actually doing, but in their respective jobs, did a better job than the person they were rating against. . . . [Footnote 27]"
For each job grouping, the expert computed the "Phi coefficient" of statistical correlation between the test scores and an average of the two supervisorial rankings. Consonant with professional conventions, the expert regarded as "statistically significant" any correlation that could have occurred by chance only five times, or fewer, in 100 trials. [Footnote 28] On the basis of these results, the District Court found that "[t]he personnel tests administered at the plant have undergone validation studies and have been proven to be job-related." Like the Court of Appeals, we are constrained to disagree.
The EEOC has issued "Guidelines" for employers seeking to determine, through professional validation studies,
whether their employment tests are job-related. 29 CFR pt. 1607. These Guidelines draw upon and make reference to professional standards of test validation established by the American Psychological Association. [Footnote 29] The EEOC Guidelines are not administrative "regulations" promulgated pursuant to formal procedures established by the Congress. But, as this Court has heretofore noted, they do constitute "[t]he administrative interpretation of the Act by the enforcing agency," and consequently they are "entitled to great deference." Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. at 401 U. S. 433-434. See also Espinoza v. Farah Mfg. Co.,414 U. S. 86, 414 U. S. 94 (1973).
The message of these Guidelines is the same as that of the Griggs case -- that discriminatory tests are impermissible unless shown, by professionally acceptable methods, to be
"predictive of or significantly correlated with important elements of work behavior which comprise or are relevant to the job or Jobs for which candidates are being evaluated."
29 CFR § 1607.4(c).
Measured against the Guidelines, Albemarle's validation study is materially defective in several respects:
(1) Even if it had been otherwise adequate, the study would not have "validated" the Beta and Wonderlic test battery for all of the skilled lines of progression for which the two tests are, apparently, now required. The study showed significant correlations for the Beta Exam in only three of the eight lines. Though the Wonderlic Test's Form A and Form B are in theory identical and
interchangeable measures of verbal facility, significant correlations for one form but not for the other were obtained in four job groupings. In two job groupings, neither form showed a significant correlation. Within some of the lines of progression, one form was found acceptable for some job groupings but not for others. Even if the study were otherwise reliable, this odd patchwork of results would not entitle Albemarle to impose its testing program under the Guidelines. A test may be used in jobs other than those for which it has been professionally validated only if there are "no significant differences" between the studied and unstudied jobs. 29 CFR § 1607.4(c)(2). The study in this case involved no analysis of the attributes of, or the particular skills needed in, the studied job groups. There is accordingly no basis for concluding that "no significant differences" exist among the lines of progression, or among distinct job groupings within the studied lines of progression. Indeed, the study's checkered results appear to compel the opposite conclusion.
(2) The study compared test scores with subjective supervisorial rankings. While they allow the use of supervisorial rankings in test validation, the Guidelines quite plainly contemplate that the rankings will be elicited with far more care than was demonstrated here. [Footnote 30]
Albemarle's supervisors were asked to rank employees by a "standard" that was extremely vague and fatally open to divergent interpretations. As previously noted, each "job grouping" contained a number of different jobs, and the supervisors were asked, in each grouping, to
"determine which ones [employees] they felt, irrespective of the job that they were actually doing, but in their respective jobs, did a better job than the person they were rating against. . . . [Footnote 31]"
There is no way of knowing precisely what criteria of job performance the supervisors were considering, whether each of the supervisors was considering the same criteria or whether, indeed, any of the supervisors actually applied a focused and stable body of criteria of any kind. [Footnote 32] There is, in short, simply no way to determine whether the criteria actually considered were sufficiently related to the Company's legitimate interest in job-specific ability to justify a testing system with a racially discriminatory impact.
(3) The Company's study focused, in most cases, on job groups near the top of the various lines of progression. In Griggs v. Duke Power Co., supra, the Court
"the question whether testing requirements that take into account capability for the next succeeding position or related future promotion might be utilized upon a showing that such long-range requirements fulfill a genuine business need."
401 U.S. at 401 U. S. 432. The Guidelines take a sensible approach to this issue, and we now endorse it:
"If job progression structures and seniority provisions are so established that new employees will probably, within a reasonable period of time and in a great majority of cases, progress to a higher level, it may be considered that candidates are being evaluated for jobs at that higher level. However, where job progression is not so nearly automatic, or the time span is such that higher level jobs or employees' potential may be expected to change in significant ways, it shall be considered that candidates are being evaluated for a job at or near the entry level."
29 CFR § 1607.4(c)(1). The fact that the best of those employees working near the top of a line of progression score well on a test does not necessarily mean that that test, or some particular cutoff score on the test, is a permissible measure of the minimal qualifications of new workers entering lower level jobs. In drawing any such conclusion, detailed consideration must be given to the normal speed of promotion, to the efficacy of on-the-job training in the scheme of promotion, and to the possible use of testing as a promotion device, rather than as a screen for entry into low-level jobs. The District Court made no findings on these issues. The issues take on special importance in a case, such as this one, where incumbent employees are permitted to work at even high-level jobs without passing the company's test battery. See 29 CFR § 1607.11.
(4) Albemarle's validation study dealt only with job-experienced, white workers; but the tests themselves are given to new job applicants, who are younger, largely inexperienced, and in many instances nonwhite. The APA Standards state that it is "essential" that
"[t]he validity of a test should be determined on subjects who are at the age or in the same educational or vocational situation as the persons for whom the test is recommended in practice."