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The affirmative action plans that meet with the Supreme Court's approval under Title VII have objectives, as well as benchmarks which served to evaluate progress, guide the employment decisions at issue, and assure the grant of only those minority preferences necessary to further the plans' purpose.
Sharon Taxman, a teacher, intervened in an action initiated by the government against the Board of Education of the Township of Piscataway, asserting race-based employment discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e-2. The trial court granted Taxman partial summary judgment on liability and, after a damages trial, awarded her full back pay. Both sides appealed. The Board claimed error in the grant of partial summary judgment and Taxman challenged the dismissal of her punitive damages claim.
Did Title VII permit an employer with a racially balanced work force to grant a non-remedial racial preference in order to promote "racial diversity"?
The court affirmed, ruling that the Board violated Title VII when it used its affirmative action plan to grant a non-remedial work force preference, by laying off Taxman, in order to promote "racial diversity." Applying a two-prong test, the court ruled that the affirmative action plan, which had no remedial purpose, could not be said to mirror the purposes of the statute because there was no congressional recognition of diversity as a Title VII objective requiring accommodation. In addition, the policy's lack of definition and structure "unnecessarily trammeled" non-minority interests. The damage award was proper. There was no evidence to support a punitive damages claim.