Rivers v. Roadway Express, Inc., 511 U.S. 298, 4 (1994)

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Cite as: 511 U. S. 298 (1994)

Opinion of the Court


Petitioners Rivers and Davison were employed by respondent Roadway Express, Inc., as garage mechanics. On the morning of August 22, 1986, a supervisor directed them to attend disciplinary hearings later that day. Because they had not received the proper notice guaranteed by their collective-bargaining agreement, petitioners refused to attend. They were suspended for two days, but filed grievances and were awarded two days' backpay. Respondent then held another disciplinary hearing, which petitioners also refused to attend, again on the ground that they had not received proper notice. Respondent thereupon discharged them.

On December 22, 1986, petitioners filed a complaint alleging that respondent had discharged them because of their race in violation of 42 U. S. C. 1981.1 They claimed, inter alia, that they had been fired on baseless charges because of their race and because they had insisted on the same procedural protections afforded white employees.

On June 15, 1989, before the trial commenced, this Court announced its decision in Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U. S. 164. Patterson held that 1981 "does not apply to conduct which occurs after the formation of a contract and which does not interfere with the right to enforce established contract obligations." Id., at 171. Relying on Patterson, the District Court held that none of petitioners' discriminatory discharge claims were covered by 1981, and dismissed their claims under that section. After a bench trial on petitioners' Title VII claims, the District Court found that petitioners had been discharged for reasons other than their race, and entered judgment for respondent.

1 Petitioners' amended complaint also alleged claims against respondent under the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, 61 Stat. 157, as amended, 29 U. S. C. 185(a), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U. S. C. 2000e et seq., as well as claims against their union. Those claims are not before us.


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