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Goodman v. Lukens Steel Co.

482 U.S. 656, 107 S. Ct. 2617, 96 L. Ed. 2d 572 (1987)

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Goodman v. Lukens Steel Co.

United States Supreme Court

482 U.S. 656, 107 S. Ct. 2617, 96 L. Ed. 2d 572 (1987)

Facts

Goodman and other Black employees (plaintiffs) of Lukens Steel Company (Lukens) (defendant) sued Lukens as well as the United Steelworkers of America union and two local unions (the unions) (defendants) for racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Goodman and the other employees alleged that the unions failed to challenge Lukens’s racially discriminatory discharges of employees, failed to assert Black union members’ racial-discrimination claims against Lukens in grievances, and tolerated and implicitly encouraged racial harassment. The unions asserted that they did not include allegations of racial discrimination in grievances to avoid angering Lukens, which the unions claimed would make it more difficult to successfully resolve the grievances. The unions also asserted that they gave priority to more serious grievances to avoid a backlog in the grievance-processing system. The district court found that the collective-bargaining contract between Lukens and the unions contained a provision binding Lukens and the unions not to discriminate on racial grounds. The evidence before the district court indicated that Black employees were actively involved in the union and served on the grievance committee and that the number of grievances asserted on behalf of Black employees was proportional to the number of Black employees in the workforce. The district court did not find that the unions held racial animus toward Black union members. However, the court found that the unions had violated Title VII and § 1981 by ignoring grievances based on racial harassment and by failing to challenge racially discriminatory practices of which the unions were aware, including Lukens’s discriminatory discharges of Black probationary employees, Lukens’s segregated locker facilities, and Lukens’s use of tests that had a racially disparate impact. The district court entered an injunctive order against the unions, and the appellate court affirmed. The unions appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Powell, J.)

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