United States v. Burke, 504 U.S. 229, 26 (1992)

Page:   Index   Previous  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26



O'Connor, J., dissenting

amendments Title VII reached much more than discrimination in the economic aspects of employment. The protection afforded under Title VII has always been expansive, extending not just to economic inequality, but also to " 'working environments so heavily polluted with discrimination as to destroy completely the emotional and psychological stability of minority group workers' " and " 'demeaning and disconcerting' " conditions of employment. Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U. S. 57, 66, 67 (1986) (quoting Rogers v. EEOC, 454 F. 2d 234, 238 (CA5 1971), cert. denied, 406 U. S. 957 (1972); Henson v. Dundee, 682 F. 2d 897, 902 (CA11 1982)).

Given the historic reach of Title VII, Congress' decision to authorize comparably broad remedies most naturally suggests that legislators thought existing penalties insufficient to effectuate the law's settled purposes. There is no need to guess whether Congress had a new conception of injury in mind, however. The Legislature set out the reason for new remedies in the statute itself, explaining that "additional remedies under Federal law are needed to deter unlawful harassment and intentional discrimination in the workplace." Pub. L. 102-166, 2, 105 Stat. 1071. This authoritative evidence that Congress added new penalties principally to effectuate an established goal of Title VII, not contrary speculation, should guide our decision.

By resting on the remedies available under Title VII and distinguishing the recently amended version of that law, the Court does make today's decision a narrow one. Nevertheless, I remain of the view that Title VII offers a tort-like cause of action to those who suffer the injury of employment discrimination. See Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U. S., at 264-265 (O'Connor, J., concurring in judgment). For this reason, I respectfully dissent.

Page:   Index   Previous  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26

Last modified: October 4, 2007