United States v. Burke, 504 U.S. 229, 20 (1992)

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248

UNITED STATES v. BURKE

O'Connor, J., dissenting

tions of an employment contract: Title VII's ban on discrimination is easily envisioned as a contractual term implied by law. See Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U. S. 69, 74-75, n. 6 (1984) ("Even if the employment contract did not afford a basis for an implied condition that the [decision to promote] would be fairly made on the merits, Title VII itself would impose such a requirement"); Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U. S. 164, 177 (1989) ("[T]he performance of established contract obligations and the conditions of continuing employment [are] matters . . . governed by state contract law and Title VII"). Indeed, it has been suggested that "the rights guaranteed by Title VII are implied terms of every employment contract . . . ." Shanor & Marcosson, Battleground for a Divided Court: Employment Discrimination in the Supreme Court, 1988-89, 6 Lab. Law. 145, 174, n. 118 (1990) (emphasis added).

In sum, good reasons tug each way. It is needless to decide which tug harder, however, for the outcome in this case follows from the default rule of statutory interpretation that exclusions from income must be narrowly construed. See United States v. Centennial Savings Bank FSB, 499 U. S. 573, 583-584 (1991); Commissioner v. Jacobson, 336 U. S. 28, 49 (1949). That is, an accession to wealth is not to be held excluded from income unless some provision of the Internal Revenue Code clearly so entails. There being here no clear application of 26 U. S. C. 104(a)(2) as interpreted by the Treasury regulation, I concur in the judgment.

Justice O'Connor, with whom Justice Thomas joins, dissenting.

The Court holds that respondents, unlike most plaintiffs who secure compensation after suffering personal injury, must pay tax on their recoveries for alleged discrimination because suits under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 Stat. 2000e et seq., do not involve "tort type rights." This is so, the Court says, because

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