United States v. Burke, 504 U.S. 229, 13 (1992)

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

Opinion of the Court

Notwithstanding a common-law tradition of broad tort damages and the existence of other federal antidiscrimination statutes offering similarly broad remedies, Congress declined to recompense Title VII plaintiffs for anything beyond the wages properly due them—wages that, if paid in the ordinary course, would have been fully taxable. See L. Frolik, Federal Tax Aspects of Injury, Damage, and Loss 70 (1987). Thus, we cannot say that a statute such as Title VII,12 whose sole remedial focus is the award of back wages, redresses a tort-like personal injury within the meaning of 104(a)(2) and the applicable regulations.13

those involving other federal antidiscrimination statutes for purposes of 104(a)(2). See post, at 250-252.

12 Respondents contend that Congress' recent expansion of Title VII's remedial scope supports their argument that Title VII claims are inherently tort-like in nature. See Brief for Respondents 34. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1991, victims of intentional discrimination are entitled to a jury trial, at which they may recover compensatory damages for "future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses," as well as punitive damages. See Pub. L. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1073. Unlike respondents, however, we believe that Congress' decision to permit jury trials and compensatory and punitive damages under the amended Act signals a marked change in its conception of the injury redressable by Title VII, and cannot be imported back into analysis of the statute as it existed at the time of this lawsuit. See, e. g., H. R. Rep. No. 102-40, pt. 1, pp. 64-65 (1991) (Report of Committee on Education and Labor) ("Monetary damages also are necessary to make discrimination victims whole for the terrible injury to their careers, to their mental and emotional health, and to their self-respect and dignity"); id., pt. 2, p. 25 (Report of Committee on the Judiciary) ("The limitation of relief under Title VII to equitable remedies often means that victims of intentional discrimination may not recover for the very real effects of the discrimination").

13 Our holding that damages received in settlement of a Title VII claim are not properly excludable under 104(a)(2) finds support in longstanding rulings of the IRS. See, e. g., Rev. Rule 72-341, 1972-2 Cum. Bull. 32 (payments by corporation to its employees in settlement of Title VII suit must be included in the employees' gross income, as the payments "were based on compensation that they otherwise would have received").


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