GRIGGS v. DUKE POWER COMPANY

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
124
Petitioner 
Griggs
Respondent 
Duke Power Company
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Facts of the Case 

Willie Griggs filed a class action, on behalf of several fellow African- American employees, against his employer Duke Power Company . Griggs challenged Duke's "inside" transfer policy, requiring employees who want to work in all but the company's lowest paying Labor Department to register a minimum score on two separate aptitude tests in addition to having a high school education. Griggs claimed that Duke's policy discriminated against African-American employees in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. On appeal from a district court's dismissal of the claim, the Court of Appeals found no discriminatory practices. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Question 

Did Duke Power Company's intradepartmental transfer policy, requiring a high school education and the achievement of minimum scores on two separate aptitude tests, violate Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Griggs, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII

Yes. After noting that Title VII of the Act intended to achieve equality of employment opportunities, the Court held that Duke's standardized testing requirement prevented a disproportionate number of African-American employees from being hired by, and advancing to higher-paying departments within, the company. Neither the high school graduation requirement nor the two aptitude tests was directed or intended to measure an employee's ability to learn or perform a particular job or category of jobs within the company. The Court concluded that the subtle, illegal, purpose of these requirements was to safeguard Duke's long-standing policy of giving job preferences to its white employees.

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GRIGGS v. DUKE POWER COMPANY. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 18 November 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1970/1970_124>.
GRIGGS v. DUKE POWER COMPANY, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1970/1970_124 (last visited November 18, 2014).
"GRIGGS v. DUKE POWER COMPANY," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed November 18, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1970/1970_124.