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McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green

Supreme Court of the United States

March 28, 1973, Argued ; May 14, 1973, Decided

No. 72-490

Opinion

 [*793]  [***673]  [**1820]    MR. JUSTICE POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court.

The case before us raises significant questions as to the proper order and nature of proof in actions under Title  [*794]  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, 42 U. S. C. § 2000c et seq.

Petitioner, McDonnell Douglas Corp., is an aerospace and aircraft manufacturer headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, where it employs over 30,000 people. Respondent, a black citizen of St. Louis, worked for petitioner as a mechanic and laboratory [****5]  technician from 1956 until August 28, 1964 2 when he was laid off in the course of a general reduction in petitioner's work force.

Respondent, a long-time activist in the civil rights movement, protested vigorously that his discharge and the general hiring practices of petitioner were racially motivated. 3 As part of this protest, respondent and other members of the Congress on Racial Equality illegally stalled their cars on the main roads leading to petitioner's plant for the purpose of blocking access to it at the time of the morning shift change. The District Judge described the plan for, and respondent's participation in, the "stall-in" as follows:

"Five teams, each consisting of four cars would 'tie up' five main access roads into McDonnell at the time of the morning rush hour. The drivers of the cars were instructed to line up next to each other completely blocking the intersections or roads.  [****6]  The drivers were also instructed to stop their cars, turn off the engines, pull the emergency brake, raise all windows, lock the doors, and remain in their cars until the police arrived. The plan was to have the cars remain in position for one hour.

 [*795]  "Acting under the 'stall in' plan, plaintiff [respondent in the present action] drove his car onto Brown Road, a McDonnell access road, at approximately 7:00 a. m., at the start of the morning rush hour. Plaintiff was aware of the traffic problems that would result. He stopped his car with the intent to block traffic. The police  [**1821]  arrived shortly and requested plaintiff to move his car. He refused to move his car voluntarily. Plaintiff's car was towed away by the police, and he was arrested for obstructing traffic. Plaintiff pleaded guilty to the charge of  [***674]  obstructing traffic and was fined." 318 F.Supp. 846, 849.

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411 U.S. 792 *; 93 S. Ct. 1817 **; 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 ***; 1973 U.S. LEXIS 154 ****; 5 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 965; 5 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P8607

McDONNELL DOUGLAS CORP. v. GREEN

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT.

Disposition:  463 F.2d 337, vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

rehire, civil rights, racial discrimination, court of appeals, hire, discriminatory, demonstration, lock-in, prima facie case, reasonable cause, qualifications, employees, stall-in, charges, pretext, chain, door, employment discrimination, unlawful conduct, protest, reasons, traffic

Business & Corporate Compliance, Protection of Rights, Federally Assisted Programs, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Labor & Employment Law, Discrimination, Title VII Discrimination, General Overview, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Reviewability, Factual Determinations, Racial Discrimination, Enforcement, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Evidence, Employee Burdens of Proof, Scope & Definitions