Brown v. GSA

RESPONDENT:General Services Administration
LOCATION:Approximate site of car accident

DOCKET NO.: 74-768
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 425 US 820 (1976)
ARGUED: Mar 01, 1976 / Mar 02, 1976
DECIDED: Jun 01, 1976

Eric Schnapper – for petitioner
James M. Nabrit, III, –
Lawrence G. Wallace – argued the cause for respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Brown v. GSA

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – March 01, 1976 (Part 1) in Brown v. GSA
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – March 02, 1976 (Part 2) in Brown v. GSA

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 01, 1976 in Brown v. GSA

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinions with regard in two cases 74-768 Brown against General Services Administration and 74-1599 Chandler against Roudebush, will each be announced by Mr. Justice Stewart.

Potter Stewart:

The first of these cases that is Brown petitioner against the General Services Administration and other is number 74-768 comes to us by way of writ of certiorari granted to review a judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The principal question presented by this case is whether section Section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, provides the exclusive judicial remedy for claims of discrimination in Federal employment.

The petitioner, Clarence Brown, is a Negro who has been employed by the General Services Administration since 1957.

At the time this litigation began he was classified in grade GS-7.

In December of 1970 Brown was referred along with two white colleagues for promotion to grade GS -9.

All three were rated highly qualified and the promotion was given to one of the white candidate for the position.

Brown filed a complaint with the GSA Equal Employment Opportunity Office alleging that racial discrimination had biased the selection process.

That complaint was withdrawn when Brown was told that other GS-9 positions would soon be available.

Another GS-9 position did become vacant in June of 1971, for which the Brown along with two others was recommended as “highly qualified.”

Again, a white applicant was chosen.

Brown filed a second administrative complaint with the GSA Equal Employment Opportunity Office.

And after several administrative steps, the GSA rendered its final decision in March of 1972.

The agency’s Director of Civil Rights informed Brown by letter by of his conclusion that considerations of race had not entered the promotional process.

The Director’s letter told Brown that, if he chose, he might carry the administrative process further by lodging an appeal with the Board of Appeals and Review of the Civil Service Commission, and that, alternatively, he could file suit within 30 days in a Federal District Court.

42 days later, Brown did filed a suit in a Federal District Court.

His complaint alleged jurisdiction under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with particular reference to Section 717, and also under two or three other jurisdictional claims one being Title 28, United States Code 1331, The General Federal Question jurisdiction.

Another the Declaratory Judgment Act adds to another Title 42 of the United States Code Section 1981 arriving from the Civil Rights legislation of more than a century ago.

The respondents, the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground that Brown had not filed his complaint within 30 days of final agency action as required by Section 717(c) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And the District Court granted the defendants motion.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the judgment of dismissal.

It held, first, that the Section 717 remedy for federal employment discrimination was retroactively available to any employee, such as the petitioner, whose administrative complaint was pending at the time Section 717 became effective on March 24 of 1972, and the respondents do not question that ruling.

The Appellate Court held, second, that section 717 does provides the exclusive judicial remedy for federal employment discrimination, and that the complaint had not been timely filed under that statute.

Finally, the court ruled that, even if 717 did not preempt other remedies, then the petitioner’s complaint was still properly dismissed because of his failure to exhaust available administrative remedies.

We granted certiorari to consider the important issues of federal law presented by this case.

For the reasons discussed in the Courts written opinion filed with the clerk today, we agree that Section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended in 1972 provides the exclusive judicial remedy for claims and discrimination in federal employment.

Since Brown failed to file a timely complaint under Section 717(c), the District Court properly dismissed the case.

And the Court of Appeals properly affirmed that judgment of dismissal.

Accordingly the judgment of the Court of Appeals is today affirmed.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion which he has been joined by Mr. Justice Brennan Mr. Justice Marshall took no part in consideration or decision of this case.