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Ford Motor Co. v. EEOC

United States Supreme Court
458 U.S. 219 (1982)


Judy Gaddis, Rebecca Starr, and Zettie Smith (plaintiffs) applied for “picker-packer” jobs at Ford Motor Co. (Ford) (defendant) in June and July 1971. The applicants, all female, possessed the necessary job qualifications based on their prior work experience. Ford, however, discriminatorily hired men instead. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (plaintiff) sued Ford on the applicants’ behalf under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. While that suit was pending, in 1973, Gaddis and Starr returned to their former employer. Several months later, Ford offered Gaddis a vacant job. Gaddis declined the offer, although it would not have affected her Title VII suit against Ford, because Ford did not offer retroactive seniority (dating back to 1971, when Gaddis first applied), and Gaddis did not want to lose seniority accrued with her current employer. Ford then made the same offer to Starr, who declined for similar reasons. A court of appeals later concluded that Ford’s offer to Gaddis and Starr had been insufficient, because it did not include retroactive seniority beginning in 1971, and awarded Gaddis and Starr back pay from 1971 through the trial’s conclusion in 1977. Ford sought review by the United States Supreme Court, which was granted.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

Dissent (Blackmun, J.)

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