Griggs v. Duke Power Co.

Griggs v. Duke Power Co.

Litigants=Griggs v. Duke Power Co.
ArgueDate=December 14
DecideDate=March 8
FullName=Griggs et al. v. Duke Power Co.
Prior=Reversed in part, 420 F.2d 1225. Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit, granted.
Subsequent=420 F.2d 1225, reversed in part.
Holding=Broad aptitude tests used in hiring practices that disparately impact ethnic minorities must be reasonably related to the job.
JoinMajority=unanimous court
LawsApplied=Civil Rights Act of 1964 [ Civil Rights Act of 1964] ]

"Griggs v. Duke Power Co.", 401 U.S. 424 (1971), was a court case argued before the United States Supreme Court on December 14, 1970. It concerned employment discrimination and was decided on March 8, 1971.


Prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Duke Power Co. had a policy of segregating employees according to race. Specifically, at its Dan River plant, African-Americans were only allowed to work in its Labor department, which constituted the lowest-paying positions in the company.

After the Civil Rights Act was passed, the company changed its policies, adding a requirement of a high school diploma for positions in areas other than the Labor department. This had the effect of eliminating a large number of African-American applicants for positions outside the Labor department.ggjg


The Supreme Court ruled against a procedure used by the company when selecting employees for internal transfer and promotion to certain positions, namely requiring a high school education and certain scores on broad aptitude tests. African-American applicants, less likely to hold a high school diploma and averaging lower scores on the aptitude tests, were selected at a much lower rate for these positions compared to white candidates.

The Court found that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, if such tests disparately impact ethnic minority groups, businesses must demonstrate that such tests are "reasonably related" to the job for which the test is required. Because Title VII is passed pursuant to Congress's power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, the disparate impact test later articulated by the Supreme Court in Washington v. Davis, 426 US 229 (1976) is inapplicable. (The Washington v. Davis test for disparate impact is used in constitutional equal protection clause cases while Title VII's prohibition on disparate impact is a statutory mandate.)

As such, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment tests (when used as a decisive factor in employment decisions) that are not a "reasonable measure of job performance," regardless of the absence of actual intent to discriminate. Since the aptitude tests involved, and the high school diploma requirement, were broad-based and not directly related to the jobs performed, Duke Power Co's employee transfer procedure was found by the Court to be in violation of the Act.

ubsequent History

Griggs v. Duke Power Co. also held that the employer had the burden of producing and proving the business necessity of a test. However, in Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642, 657 (1989), the Court reduced the employer's burden to only producing evidence of business justification. In 1991, the Civil Rights Act was amended to overturn that portion of the Wards Cove decision.

ee also

*Intelligence and public policy
*List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 401

External links

* [ summary]
* [ article]
* [ Griggs v. Duke Power Co. Decision]


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