Brown v. GSA
425 U.S. 820 (1976)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Brown v. GSA, 425 U.S. 820 (1976)

Brown v. GSA, 425 U.S. 820 (1976)

No. 74-768

Argued March 1-2, 1976

Decided June 1, 1976

425 U.S. 820

Syllabus

Section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as added by § 11 of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, proscribes federal employment discrimination and establishes an administrative and judicial enforcement system. The statute provides that personnel actions affecting federal employees or job applicants "shall be made free from any discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin," § 717(a); delegates enforcement authority to the Civil Service Commission (CSC), § 717(b); and permits an aggrieved employee to file a civil action in a federal district court for review of his claim of employment discrimination. After first seeking relief from the agency allegedly guilty of discrimination, he may seek further review from the CSC, or, alternatively, within 30 days of receipt of notice of the agency's final decision, file suit in federal district court without appealing to the CSC. If he appeals to the CSC, he may file suit within 30 days of the CSC's final decision. In any event, he may file a civil action if, after 180 days from the filing of the charge or appeal, the agency or the CSC has not taken final action. § 717(c). Petitioner, a Negro, who claimed that respondent agency (GSA) had racially discriminated against him by not promoting him to a higher grade, filed a complaint with the GSA. After an adverse decision, he was accorded a hearing by a CSC complaints examiner, who, in February, 1973, found that there was no discrimination, and, in March, 1973, the GSA rendered its final decision upholding the examiner. Petitioner was advised of that decision and of the further procedure available to him. Forty-two days later, he brought suit in the District Court, alleging jurisdiction under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "with particular reference to" § 717. He also alleged jurisdiction under the general federal question statute, the Declaratory Judgment Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The District Court granted respondents' motion to dismiss made on the ground that petitioner had not filed the complaint within the 30-day period specified by § 717(c), and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: Section 717 provides the exclusive

Page 425 U. S. 821

judicial remedy for claims of discrimination in federal employment, and, since petitioner failed to file a timely complaint under § 717(c), the District Court properly dismissed his complaint. Pp. 425 U. S. 824-835.

(a) The legislative history indicates that Congress, which was persuaded that federal employees who were treated discriminatorily had no effective judicial remedy, intended by the 1972 legislation to create an exclusive, preemptive administrative scheme for the redress of federal employment discrimination. Pp. 425 U. S. 824-829.

(b) The balance, completeness, and structural integrity of § 717 are inconsistent with petitioner's contention that the judicial remedy of § 717(c) was designed merely to supplement other putative judicial remedies. Johnson v. Railway Express Agency,421 U. S. 454, distinguished. Pp. 425 U. S. 832-8:34.

(c) A precisely drawn, detailed statute preempts more general remedies. Preiser v. Rodriguez,411 U. S. 475. Pp. 425 U. S. 834-835.

507 F.2d 1300, affirmed.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 425 U. S. 835. MARSHALL, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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