United States Postal Service Board of Governors v. Aikens

PETITIONER: United States Postal Service Board of Governors
RESPONDENT: Aikens
LOCATION: Dr. Simopoulos’ Clinic

DOCKET NO.: 81-1044
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 460 US 711 (1983)
ARGUED: Nov 09, 1982
DECIDED: Apr 04, 1983

ADVOCATES:
Jack Greenberg - on behalf of the Respondent
Lawrence G. Wallace - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United States Postal Service Board of Governors v. Aikens

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1982 in United States Postal Service Board of Governors v. Aikens

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 04, 1983 in United States Postal Service Board of Governors v. Aikens

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in United States Postal Service against Aikens will be announced by Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

This case comes to us by way of certiorari the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Harold Aikens sued the petitioner, the United States Postal Service for discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Aikens was black, contended that the Postal Service discriminatorily refused to promote him to higher positions in a Washington, D.C., Post Office where he worked since 1937.

The Post Office insisted that they had not discriminated against him.

After full trial, the District Court found for the Postal Service that the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed saying that the District Court was wrong in thinking that direct evidence of discrimination was required and it also discussed at some length the prima facie case presumptions which are derived from our earlier cases.

We granted certiorari in an opinion filed today with the Court.

We hold that the Court of Appeals was correct in finding that no present -- no direct evidence of discrimination was required.

Discrimination cases like other suits can be proved by either direct or circumstantial evidence.

But we find that the Court of Appeals was incorrect in its dealing with the presumptions which are discussed in its opinion.

In fact, we have some doubt why the parties and the Court should be talking about the questions of presumptions at this stage of the case.

A full trial was been completed and our cases in that situation instruct trial judges to decide the ultimate issue of whether or not there was discrimination in the case.

We therefore vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case with the District Court for further proceedings consistent with our opinion.

Justice Blackmun has filed a concurring opinion in which Justice Brennan joins.

Justice Marshall concurs in the judgment.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Justice Rehnquist.