LOCATION: The Department of Health and Human Services
DOCKET NO.: 89-1895
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1990-1991)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
CITATION: 501 US 104 (1991)
ARGUED: Apr 17, 1991
DECIDED: Jun 10, 1991
Amy L. Wax - as amicus curiae supporting Respondent (pro hac vice)
Leonard N. Flamm - on behalf of the Respondent
Paul J. Siegel - on behalf of the Petitioner
Facts of the case
Media for Astoria Federal Savings & Loan Association v. SoliminoAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 17, 1991 in Astoria Federal Savings & Loan Association v. Solimino
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 10, 1991 in Astoria Federal Savings & Loan Association v. Solimino
William H. Rehnquist:
The opinions of the Court in two cases will be announced by Justice Souter.
David H. Souter:
The first case is a story of Federal Savings and Loan Association and Solimino, 89-1895.
This case comes to us on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Respondent, Angelo Solimino, filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that the petitioner, Astoria Federal Savings and Loan Association, had dismissed him because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
The EEOC referred his claim to the state agency responsible for like claims under New York's own anti-discrimination law which ruled against Solimino on the merits of his claim.
Rather than appealing that decision to a State Court, Solimino filed a Federal Age Act suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Astoria then moved for summary judgment which the court granted holding that the findings of the state agency precluded federal litigation of the claim that the Court of Appeals reversed inferring that from the Act's structure an intent to deny preclusive effect to such date administrative proceedings.
In the unanimous opinion filed today with the clerk of court, we affirm the judgment of the Second Circuit and hold that judicially unreviewed findings of the state agency have no preclusive effect on age discrimination proceedings in federal courts.
While well-established common law principles such as preclusion rules are presumed to apply in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, Congress need not state expressly its intention to overcome a presumption of administrative estoppel.
Rules of cleared statement are appropriate only where weighing and constant values are at steak whereas, such values are not represented by the lenient to a presumption in favor of administrative estoppel, the suitability of which varies according to context.
Thus, the test for the presumption's application is simply whether the administrative preclusion would be inconsistent with congressional intent in enacting a particular statute.
Such an inconsistency is apparent with respect to the Age Act.
The Act's filing requirements assume the possibility of federal consideration of age discrimination claims in the wake of unfavorable state administrative review.
And yet, such consideration would be mere formality if state agency findings would give inpreclusive effect.
Our holding today is consistent with the decision in Tennessee and Elliott in which we denied estoppel effect to agency findings in a parallel context of Title VII.
It also comports with the broader scheme and enforcement provisions, and although congress' wisdom in deciding against administrative preclusion is relevant to our determination, the congressional choice in this case enjoys plausible policy support.