Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody

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422 U.S. 405 (1975), argued 14 Apr. 1975, decided 25 June 1975 by vote of 7 to 1; Stewart for the Court, Marshall, Rehnquist, and Blackmun concurring, Burger dissenting in part, Powell not participating. This case and United Papermakers and Paperworkers v. Moody were decided in the same opinion and dealt with two important issues under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: (1) the standards a district court should use in deciding back pay awards to employees who suffered monetary loss because of racial discrimination; and (2) the requirements placed upon an employer to establish that preemployment tests that have a discriminatory effect are sufficiently “job related” to survive a legal challenge.

The plaintiffs in Moody consisted of present and former African-American employees of Albemarle Paper Company's mill in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. They charged that the company's seniority system perpetuated the overt segregation that existed in the plant's departmental job assignment system prior to 2 July 1965 (the effective date of Title VII), and they sought injunctive and back pay relief.

The Court found that tests used by the company were not sufficiently job related to be valid under Title VII and held that the trial court should have enjoined the use of the tests and awarded back pay. In deciding the issue of back pay awards, the Court ruled that such awards should follow closely upon a finding of discrimination and that ordering back pay was an appropriate incentive to employers to comply with Title VII. It concluded that the certainty of the remedy would best effectuate the statute. In all essential aspects this holding continues to provide a major form of relief under Title VII.

Herbert Hill

Subjects: Law.

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