Kremer v. Chemical Construction Corporation

RESPONDENT: Chemical Construction Corporation
LOCATION: Bookstore

DOCKET NO.: 80-6045
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 456 US 461 (1982)
ARGUED: Dec 07, 1981
DECIDED: May 17, 1982

David A. Barrett - on behalf of the Petitioner
Lawrence G. Wallace - on behalf of the U. S. and E. E. O. C., as amici curiae
Robert Layton - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Kremer v. Chemical Construction Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 07, 1981 in Kremer v. Chemical Construction Corporation

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Kremer against the Chemical Construction Corporation.

Mr. Barrett, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

David A. Barrett:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, Petitioner is here today because the court of appeals for the Second Circuit held that his employment discrimination claim under Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had to be dismissed by the district court without any consideration of the merits of the claim.

The only reason for the dismissal of the federal Title 7 action was that Petitioner had unsuccessfully sought relief for the same alleged discriminatory conduct under the New York state law that bans discrimination in employment.

The decision of the court of appeals is wrong because Congress intended to permit Title 7 plaintiffs to pursue their remedies under state law fully without losing the right to a de novo hearing of their claims in federal court.

William H. Rehnquist:

Do you contend that Title 7 was an implied repeal of Section 1738, the full faith and credit statute?

David A. Barrett:

I don't really think it is necessary for the Court to address the questions in those terms, Your Honor.

William H. Rehnquist:

Well, let's address them in those terms for a moment.

Do you contend it was or wasn't?

David A. Barrett:

Well, the entire statutory scheme of Title 7 presupposes a system in which there is first a state proceeding, then a proceeding before the EEOC, then a proceeding in federal court, and I think what Congress intended was that all three of those steps should be given their full force and effect.

William H. Rehnquist:

Well, certainly, but the full force and effect of the review by the appellate division in New York would not be given full effect if your contention prevails, would it?

David A. Barrett:

Your Honor, I disagree with that.

The appellate division decided a question of state law, first of all.

It didn't address Petitioner's Title 7 claims as such, but that is really beside the point.

I think the basic point is that Congress intended in Title 7 to set up a statutory scheme that had a certain duplication, a certain overlapping of remedies, and that intent is clear, and it has been recognized by this Court in numerous cases.

Petitioner was discharged by Respondent, Chemical Construction, from his job as a chemical engineer, and he was denied re-employment on several occasions, allegedly on the basis of his religion and national origin.

Petitioner first filed his complaint with the EEOC, but the EEOC could not act immediately on the charge, because Section 706(d) of Title 7 requires it to refer the charge to the New York State Division of Human Rights for processing under the state human rights law.

The Human Rights Division eventually dismissed the charge because it said that there was not probable cause to believe it was true.

That state agency decision is the only consideration that any government body, state or federal, administrative or judicial, has ever given to the merits of Petitioner's claim of employment discrimination, yet the Human Rights Division dismissed Petitioner's claim without ever holding any formal hearing.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Counsel, I suppose that a formal hearing could have been held had the Petitioner requested it.

David A. Barrett:

No, that is not quite right, Justice O'Connor.

It is the Human Rights Division that decides whether or not there is probable cause.

Only if it decides there is probable cause is a hearing then held.

So it is not a question of the Petitioner requesting it.

As Petitioner was entitled to do under state law, he appealed the dismissal of his complaint both to an administrative appeal board and to the appellate division of the Supreme Court, and I think it is important in further response to you, Justice Rehnquist, that the state legislature found it necessary to provide that step, additional step of judicial review as part of the state process that it enacted to deal with employment discrimination claims.

William H. Rehnquist:

Why do you think it is helpful?

David A. Barrett:

I think it is helpful, Your Honor, because, as this Court recognized last year in Gaslight Club against Carey, the state procedure is really the whole.

It is an integrated procedure.

It is a whole, and the resort to state court, and of course the state court only hears the claim under an arbitrary and capricious administrative review standard, that resort to state court is properly viewed simply as an additional step in the state administrative process, a final step if you will, and I understand that it is a court, not a judicial body, but nevertheless, it is something that is part of the state system to which Congress intended, indeed, the state system as such required resort to initially.