Guardians Assn. v. Civil Svc. Comm'n
463 U.S. 582 (1983)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Guardians Assn. v. Civil Svc. Comm'n, 463 U.S. 582 (1983)

Guardians Association v. Civil Service

Commission of the City of New York

No. 81-431

Argued November 1, 1982

Decided July 1, 1983

463 U.S. 582

Syllabus

Petitioner black and Hispanic police officers were appointed to the New York City Police Department upon achieving passing scores on the examinations administered to make entry-level appointments. Since appointments were made in order of test scores, however, the examinations caused blacks and Hispanics to be hired later than similarly situated whites, which lessened petitioner officers' seniority and related benefits. Accordingly, when the Department subsequently laid off police officers on a "last-hired, first-fired" basis, those officers who had achieved the lowest scores were laid off first, and petitioner officers were disproportionately affected by the layoffs. Petitioner officers and petitioner organizations then brought a class action in Federal District Court against respondents (the Department and other New York City officials and entities), alleging that the layoffs violated their rights under, inter alia, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Citing administrative regulations promulgated under Title VI, the District Court ultimately held that an implied private right of action existed under Title VI, and that proof of discriminatory effect was enough to establish a violation of Title VI, thereby rejecting respondents' contention that only proof of discriminatory intent could suffice. The District Court granted certain relief under Title VII, and also granted the following relief under Title VI: (1) Each class member was awarded constructive seniority, including the right to backpay and back medical and insurance benefits which he would have received had he been appointed on his constructive seniority date; (2) respondents were directed to give a sergeant's examination to those class members whose constructive seniority would have entitled them to take the last such examination; and (3) respondents were ordered to consult with petitioners on the preparation and use of future examinations to insure that future hiring practices would be nondiscriminatory. The Court of Appeals affirmed the relief under Title VII, but reversed as to Title VI, holding that the awards of Title VI relief could not be sustained because proof of discriminatory intent was required.

Held: The judgment is affirmed. 633 F.2d 232, affirmed.

Page 463 U. S. 583

JUSTICE WHITE concluded that discriminatory intent is not an essential element of a Title VI violation. JUSTICE WHITE, joined by JUSTICE REHNQUIST, also concluded that a private plaintiff should recover only injunctive, noncompensatory relief for a defendant's unintentional violation of Title VI, that such relief should not include an award of constructive seniority, and that the Court of Appeals' judgment should be affirmed on this basis, since the relief denied petitioners under that judgment is unavailable to them under Title VI. Pp. 463 U. S. 593-607.

JUSTICE POWELL, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, would affirm the Court of Appeals' judgment on the ground that private suits to enforce Title VI are not authorized or, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE and JUSTICE REHNQUIST, would affirm the judgment on the alternative ground that the Court of Appeals correctly held that a showing of intentional discrimination is a prerequisite to a successful Title VI claim. Pp. 463 U. S. 608-611.

JUSTICE O'CONNOR would affirm the Court of Appeals' judgment on the ground that proof of purposeful discrimination is a necessary element of a valid Title VI claim, and that hence implementing regulations incorporating an impact standard are not valid. Pp. 463 U. S. 612-615.

WHITE, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in Parts I, III, IV, and V of which REHNQUIST, J., joined. POWELL, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which BURGER, C.J., joined, and in Part II of which REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 463 U. S. 607. REHNQUIST, J., post, p. 463 U. S. 612, and O'CONNOR, J., post, p. 463 U. S. 612, filed opinions concurring in the judgment. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 463 U. S. 615. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 463 U. S. 635.

Page 463 U. S. 584

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