United States v. Burke, 504 U.S. 229, 3 (1992)

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Cite as: 504 U. S. 229 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee alleging that TVA had discriminated unlawfully in the payment of salaries on the basis of sex. The Office and Professional Employees International Union, which represented the affected employees, intervened. Among the represented employees were respondents Therese A. Burke, Cynthia R. Center, and Linda G. Gibbs.

The complaint alleged that TVA had increased the salaries of employees in certain male-dominated pay schedules, but had not increased the salaries of employees in certain female-dominated schedules. In addition, the complaint alleged that TVA had lowered salaries in some female-dominated schedules. App. in No. 90-5607 (CA6) (hereinafter App.), pp. 28-32 (Second Amended Complaint). The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief as well as backpay for all affected female employees. Id., at 33-34. The defendants filed a counterclaim against the union alleging, among other things, fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of contract. Id., at 35.

After the District Court denied cross-motions for summary judgment, the parties reached a settlement. TVA agreed to pay $4,200 to Hutcheson and a total of $5 million for the other affected employees, to be distributed under a formula based on length of service and rates of pay. Id., at 70-71, 76-77. Although TVA did not withhold taxes on the $4,200 for Hutcheson, it did withhold, pursuant to the agreement, federal income taxes on the amounts allocated to the other affected employees, including the three respondents here.1

1 The pretax figures for the three respondents ranged from $573 to $928; the federal income tax withheld ranged from $114 to $186. 90-1 USTC

¶ 50,203, p. 83,747 (1990). Although respondents also sought a refund of taxes withheld from their incomes pursuant to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), 26 U. S. C. 3101 et seq., neither the parties nor the courts below addressed the distinct analytical question whether back-pay received under Title VII constitutes "wages" subject to taxation for FICA purposes. See 26 U. S. C. 3101(a) (imposing percentage tax on "wages"), 3121(a) (defining "wages" as "all remuneration for employ-


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