Loeffler v. Frank

LOCATION: Hustler Magazine Headquarters

DOCKET NO.: 86-1431
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)

CITATION: 486 US 549 (1988)
ARGUED: Jan 11, 1988
DECIDED: Jun 13, 1988

Facts of the case


Media for Loeffler v. Frank

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 11, 1988 in Loeffler v. Frank

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 13, 1988 in Loeffler v. Frank

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinions of the Court in two cases, No. 86-1431, Loeffler against Frank, No. 86-1824, Michigan against Chesternut will be announced by Justice Blackmun.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Well, the first case, Loeffler against Frank, comes to us by writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

The petitioner, Loeffler, was discharged from his position with the United States Postal Service and he contended that his discharge resulted from sex discrimination and he sued the Postmaster General in Federal Court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The Court found in his favor and ordered his reinstatement, but it refused to award him prejudgment interest.

The Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, was divided in its vote but it affirmed the denial of prejudgment interest.

It concluded that Congress had not waived the Postal Service's sovereign immunity in this respect in a Title VII suit even though under the Postal Reorganization Act, there is a specific provision that the Postal Service may sue and be sued.

In an opinion filed with the clerk today, we reverse that judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

We hold that prejudgment interest may be awarded in a suit against the Postal Service under Title VII.

Congress launched the service into the commercial world and thereby removed its cloak of sovereignty and given it the status of a private commercial enterprise.

The clause must be liberally construed and the Service's liability must presume to be the same as that of any other business.

Justice White has filed a dissenting opinion and has joined therein by the Chief Justice and Justice O'Connor.

Justice Kennedy took no part.