Florida v. Long

LOCATION:Hustler Magazine Headquarters

DOCKET NO.: 86-1685
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)

CITATION: 487 US 223 (1988)
ARGUED: Feb 22, 1988
DECIDED: Jun 22, 1988

Facts of the case


Media for Florida v. Long

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – February 22, 1988 in Florida v. Long

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 22, 1988 in Florida v. Long

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinions of the Court in two cases, No. 86-1685, Florida against Long, and No. 85-578, Bank of Nova Scotia versus United States will be announced by Justice Kennedy.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

The first case is Florida versus Long, No. 86-1685.

We granted certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to review this case.

In 1978, we ruled that pension funds for public employees could not discriminate as to contributions on the basis of sex.

That was the Manhart case.

In 1983, we held that equal treatment also is required for benefits that is to say in the pay-out stage.

That was the Norris case.

These cases established with the use of sex-based actuarial tables to calculate pension benefits or contributions is discriminatory.

The case before us involves the Florida Retirement System for public employees.

There was a discriminatory feature in this plan.

The State cured it immediately after Norris was decided.

The central question presented here is whether the State should have acted sooner based on the Manhart decision.

There are also multiple subsidiary questions regarding the appropriate form of relief if a violation is established.

The District Court granted various reliefs to the class members basically on the premise that Manhart in 1978 established Florida’s duty to conform its pay-out provisions and on the theory that all future payments should be conformed.

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

We now reverse the Court of Appeals’ judgment.

We hold that Norris rather than Manhart establishes the appropriate date for commencing liability for employer operated pension plans that offered discriminatory payment options. Until Norris, employers were not put on notice that benefit payments as well as contributions had to be equal for males and females.

Retroactive relief should not have been awarded in this case in both Manhart and Norris.

We reject — we rejected the application of retroactive relief.

The imposition of retroactive liability against the States, local governments and other employers, we stated, would not only be inequitable but also would threaten the security of the retirement system.

We reaffirm that conclusion today. Finally, we note that trial courts must carefully scrutinize the effect of an award.

The District Courts ordered to make future adjustments in respondent’s benefits had a retroactive character in effect.

The award undermined the financial calculus of the retirement system requiring either additional state funds or alteration of other retiree’s contractual rights to meet the unexpected liability.

We therefore reverse this portion of the award as well.

Justice Blackmun has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part in which Justices Brennan and Marshall joined.

Justice Stevens has filed a separate dissenting opinion.