Landgraf v. USI Film Products, 511 U.S. 244 (1994)

Page:   Index   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next





certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit

No. 92-757. Argued October 13, 1993—Decided April 26, 1994

After a bench trial in petitioner Landgraf's suit under Title VII of the

Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the District Court found that she had been sexually harassed by a co-worker at respondent USI Film Products, but that the harassment was not so severe as to justify her decision to resign her position. Because the court found that her employment was not terminated in violation of Title VII, she was not entitled to equitable relief, and because Title VII did not then authorize any other form of relief, the court dismissed her complaint. While her appeal was pending, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (1991 Act or Act) became law, 102 of which includes provisions that create a right to recover compensatory and punitive damages for intentional discrimination violative of Title VII (hereinafter 102(a)), and authorize any party to demand a jury trial if such damages are claimed (hereinafter 102(c)). In affirming, the Court of Appeals rejected Landgraf's argument that her case should be remanded for a jury trial on damages pursuant to 102.

Held: Section 102 does not apply to a Title VII case that was pending on appeal when the 1991 Act was enacted. Pp. 250-286. (a) Since the President vetoed a 1990 version of the Act on the ground, among others, of perceived unfairness in the bill's elaborate retroactivity provision, it is likely that the omission of comparable language in the 1991 Act was not congressional oversight or unawareness, but was a compromise that made the Act possible. That omission is not dispositive here because it does not establish precisely where the compromise was struck. For example, a decision to reach only cases still pending, and not those already finally decided, might explain Congress' failure to provide in the 1991 Act, as it had in the 1990 bill, that certain sections would apply to proceedings pending on specified pre-enactment dates. Pp. 250-257. (b) The text of the 1991 Act does not evince any clear expression of congressional intent as to whether 102 applies to cases arising before the Act's passage. The provisions on which Landgraf relies for such an expression— 402(a), which states that, "[e]xcept as otherwise specifically provided, this Act and the amendments made by this Act shall take effect upon enactment," and 402(b) and 109(c), which provide for prospective application in limited contexts—cannot bear the heavy

Page:   Index   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007