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Furnco Construction Corp. v. Waters
United States Supreme Court
438 U.S. 567 (1978)
Three Black bricklayers, Samuels, Nemhard, and Smith (the applicants) (defendants) applied to work for Furnco Construction Corporation (Furnco) (plaintiff). Furnco delegated hiring responsibilities to the project’s superintendent, Joseph Dacies. Dacies hired only people who he already knew to be qualified and competent or who were recommended to him. Dacies did not hire Samuels and Nemhard although both were fully qualified for the position. Dacies eventually hired Smith long after Smith applied although Dacies was familiar with Smith and had previously employed him. The applicants sued Furnco, alleging that Furnco’s hiring practices were racially discriminatory in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Furnco argued that it was critical to hire experienced and highly qualified bricklayers because slow or shoddy work could cost Furnco money, damage Furnco’s reputation, create future maintenance issues, and create safety hazards. The district court dismissed the applicants’ lawsuit, finding that Furnco justified its hiring practices as a business necessity and that there was no proof that the practice was a pretext for racial discrimination. The appellate court reversed, finding that Furnco did not show that it had a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for allowing Dacies to hire only through direct knowledge or recommendations instead of allowing applicants to submit written applications. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)
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