Rivers v. Roadway Express, Inc., 511 U.S. 298, 5 (1994)

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302

RIVERS v. ROADWAY EXPRESS, INC.

Opinion of the Court

On appeal, petitioners contended that the District Court had misconstrued their complaint: They had not merely claimed discriminatory discharge, but more specifically had alleged that respondent had retaliated against them, because of their race, for attempting to enforce their procedural rights under the collective-bargaining agreement. Because that allegation related to "enforcement" of the labor contract, petitioners maintained, it stated a 1981 claim even under Patterson's construction of the statute. While petitioners' appeal was pending, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (1991 Act or Act) became law. Section 101 of that Act provides that 1981's prohibition against racial discrimination in the making and enforcement of contracts applies to all phases and incidents of the contractual relationship, including discriminatory contract terminations.2 Petitioners accordingly filed

2 The full text of 101, which is entitled "Prohibition Against All Racial Discrimination in the Making And Enforcement of Contracts," reads as follows:

"Section 1977 of the Revised Statutes (42 U. S. C. 1981) is amended— "(1) by inserting '(a)' before 'All persons within'; and "(2) by adding at the end the following new subsections: "(b) For purposes of this section, the term 'make and enforce contracts' includes the making, performance, modification, and termination of contracts, and the enjoyment of all benefits, privileges, terms, and conditions of the contractual relationship.

"(c) The rights protected by this section are protected against impairment by nongovernmental discrimination and impairment under color of State law."

Prior to the 1991 amendment, 1981 provided:

"All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other." The history of 1981, which is sometimes cited as 1977 of the Revised Statutes, is set forth in Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U. S. 160, 168-170, and n. 8 (1976).

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