Duke Power had a company
policy of only allowing African-American workers to be laborers, they
could not be promoted to other areas of the company.
The day after the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 was passed, Duke
changed their policies to require employees to have high school diplomas
and pass an 'aptitude test' to be promoted.
affected African Americans.
Griggs and other workers sued
under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Civil Rights Act §703 said that "it shall be an unlawful
employment practice for an employer ' to limit, segregate, or classify
his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any
individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his
status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color,
religion, sex, or national origin."
But, §703(h) said that, "it shall not
be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to give and to act
upon the results of any professionally developed ability test provided
that such test, its administration or action upon the results is not
designed, intended or used to discriminate because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin."
The Trial Court found for
Duke. Griggs appealed.
The Trial Court had found
that the discrimination had ceased when Duke changed their policy.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The Appellate Court found
that a subjective test of the employer's intent should govern, and that
in this case there was no showing of a discriminatory purpose in the
adoption of the diploma and test requirements, so it fell under the §703(h) exception.
US Supreme Court reversed.
The US Supreme Court found
that under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, if such tests disparately impact ethnic
minority groups, businesses must demonstrate that such tests are
"reasonably related" to the job for which the test is required.
Employment tests that are
not a "reasonable measure of job performance" are prohibited, regardless
of the absence of actual intent to discriminate.
The Court reasoned that the
objective of Congress in the enactment of Title VII is plain from the language of the Statute. 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.
The Court reasoned that
implied that "under the Act, practices, procedures, or tests
neutral on their face, and even neutral in terms of intent, cannot be
maintained if they operate to 'freeze' the status quo of prior discriminatory
employment practices, even if the Act does not explicitly prohibit such
This language appears
nowhere in the Act.
Basically the Court is
saying that if you can't show another reason, then the courts will
assume that there is an intent to discriminate. The burden of proof is
on the employer.
The Court went to legislative
history and looked at an amendment
that was defeated which clearly included job-relatedness. The Court
suggested that since Congress was considering job-relatedness, they
probably intended the Act to cover it.
Basically, in this case, even
though §703(h) explicitly says
that a test must be intended to discriminate, they expanded Title
VII to include any test that has the
effect of discrimination, even if unintentional, unless the employer can
explicitly show that there is another good reason for the test.
The Court has construed the
law with a purpose interpretation,
as opposed to reading the plain language interpretation.