DeGraffenreid v. GENERAL MOTORS ASSEMBLY DIV., ETC., 413 F. Supp. 142 (E.D. Mo. 1976) (2022)

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri- 413 F. Supp. 142 (E.D. Mo. 1976)
May 4, 1976

413 F. Supp. 142 (1976)
Emma DEGRAFFENREID et al., Plaintiffs,
GENERAL MOTORS ASSEMBLY DIVISION, ST. LOUIS, a corporation, et al., Defendants.
No. 75-487 C (3).

United States District Court, E. D. Missouri, E. D.

May 4, 1976.

*143 Jack Greenberg, Barry L. Goldstein, Morris J. Baller, Marilyn Holifield, New York City, Louis Gilden and Doreen D. Dodson, St. Louis, Mo., for plaintiffs.

Barnard, Baer, Lee, Timm & McDaniel, Levin & Weinhaus, St. Louis, Mo., James E. Youngdahl, Little Rock, Ark., for defendants.

(Video) What Is: Intersectionality


WANGELIN, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon its sua sponte reconsideration of its Order of September 30, 1975, which denied the cross motions of the plaintiffs and defendant General Motors Corporation for summary judgment on the grounds that questions of fact and law then existed. The Court is of the opinion, for the reasons stated below, that the then existing questions of law and fact have been resolved, and that this matter is now ripe for partial summary judgment as delineated in the accompanying Order of this date.

This action was filed by the plaintiffs seeking a determination that the "last hired-first fired" lay off policies of the defendants discriminate against them as black women, and are therefore a perpetuation of past discriminatory practices. Jurisdiction is alleged to be found in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a et seq. and the post Civil War Civil Rights Acts, 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

(Video) What is intersectionality?

The initial issue in this lawsuit is whether or not the plaintiffs are seeking relief from racial discrimination, or sex-based discrimination. The plaintiffs allege that they are suing on behalf of black women, and that therefore this lawsuit attempts to combine two causes of action into a new special sub-category, namely, a combination of racial and sex-based discrimination. The Court notes that plaintiffs have failed to cite any decisions which have stated that black women are a special class to be protected from discrimination. The Court's own research has failed to disclose such a decision. The plaintiffs are clearly entitled to a remedy if they have been discriminated against. However, they should not be allowed to combine statutory remedies to create a new "super-remedy" which would give them relief beyond what the drafters of the relevant statutes intended. Thus, this lawsuit must be examined to see if it states a cause of action for race discrimination, sex discrimination, or alternatively either, but not a combination of both.

*144 I
Sex-Based Discrimination

The Court now turns to the question of whether or not the plaintiffs have asserted a cause of action alleging discrimination based upon sex. Initially the Court notes that the post Civil War Civil Rights Acts, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 do not allow a recovery for sex discrimination. Olson v. Rembrandt Printing Co.,375 F. Supp. 413 (E.D.Mo., 1974).

The Court is of the opinion that, as a matter of law, defendant General Motors is not guilty of sex discrimination. This is especially true when the impact of the Missouri Protective Law, § 290.040, R.S.Mo., 1969, is considered in light of the hiring practices of defendant General Motors. Manning v. International Union, 466 F.2d 812 (6th Cir., 1972), and Vogel v. Trans World Airlines,346 F. Supp. 805 (W.D.Mo., 1971).

It must also be noted that affidavits furnished by defendant General Motors indicate that the defendant has hired female employees for a number of years prior to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a et seq. The hiring of female employees clearly indicates to the Court that the "last hired-first fired" seniority system of the defendants in this lawsuit does not perpetuate past discrimination. Chance v. Board of Examiners, and Board of Education of the City of New York, 534 F.2d 993, 44 L.W. 2343 (2nd Cir., 1-1976); Watkins v. United Steel Workers of America, Local No. 2369, 516 F.2d 41 (5th Cir., 1975), and Waters v. Wisconsin Steel Works, 502 F.2d 1309 (7th Cir., 1974). The Court also notes that the affidavits furnished by the plaintiffs do not comport with the requirements for stating a cause of action elucidated in the recent decision of the Supreme Court in Franks v. Bowman Transportation Co., Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 96 S. Ct. 1251, 47 L. Ed. 2d 444, 44 L.W. 4356 (1976) in that the plaintiffs state that they did not apply for employment at the defendants' operation because they knew that they would be discriminated against. Such conclusory allegations do not state a cause of action in the opinion of this Court.

While it does not have the force of res adjudicata it must be noted that defendant General Motors and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission entered into a consent decree on January 9, 1973, with respect to the hiring of female employees. That consent decree was approved by the Honorable Roy W. Harper, Senior District Judge of this District, and was reaffirmed by Judge Harper in an Order dated April 16, 1976. To the Court, this is a further indication that the seniority practices of defendants do not discriminate on the basis of sex.

For the foregoing reasons, it is clear that the plaintiffs are barred from alleging a cause of action against defendant General Motors on the grounds of sex discrimination.

Racial Discrimination

An examination of plaintiffs' complaint indicates that they have stated a claim with regards to racial discrimination on the part of the defendants. The claim of racial discrimination alleges that the past illegal discrimination of the defendants, combined with the "last hired-first fired" seniority provisions of the labor agreement between the defendants perpetuates past discrimination and is therefore violative of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Franks, supra, Waters, supra, and Watkins, supra.

Broad allegations of racial discrimination have been raised with regards to defendant General Motors employment facilities in St. Louis in case No. 72 C 551(4), Nathaniel Mosley, et al., v. General Motors Corporation, et al., now pending before the Honorable John F. Nangle of this District.

It is clear that judicial economy would be served if the allegations of the plaintiffs in the instant action were combined with those now pending in the Mosley lawsuit. When the prospect of consolidation with the Mosley lawsuit was raised during oral arguments regarding the pendency of this action as a class action, counsel for plaintiffs asserted *145 that the present case at bar was not one of purely race discrimination as is the Mosley lawsuit, but rather was an action of both race and sex-based discrimination. It was asserted that this action was brought on behalf of "black women" a separate sub-category under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. As the Court has stated above, counsel for plaintiffs, and the Court's own research, have failed to discover any case holdings which allow the creation of a new sub-category within Title VII that would generate such a new protected class of minorities. The legislative history surrounding Title VII does not indicate that the goal of the statute was to create a new classification of "black women" who would have greater standing than, for example, a black male. The prospect of the creation of new classes of protected minorities, governed only by the mathematical principles of permutation and combination, clearly raises the prospect of opening the hackneyed Pandora's box.

So that the goal of judicial economy will be served, the Court will dismiss without prejudice the race discrimination claims of the plaintiffs in the present action at bar, and suggests that they consolidate this action, or seek to intervene with the lawsuit now pending before the Honorable John F. Nangle, Mosley, et al., v. General Motors, et al., supra.

Thus, for the foregoing reasons, it is clear that the plaintiffs have asserted a claim of discrimination based upon race. As stated in the attached Order, summary judgment will be granted to the defendants with regards to sex-based discrimination, and to foster judicial economy the allegations of race discrimination in this case will be dismissed without prejudice so that the plaintiffs may either consolidate their claims or intervene in the present suit of Mosley, et al., v. General Motors, et al., No. 72 C 551(4) now pending in this District.


What is DeGraffenreid v General Motors? ›

In DeGraffenreid, five. Black women claimed General Motors' ("GM") seniority system. of "last hired first fired" had a disparate impact upon Black. women.31 GM did not hire Black women prior to 1964, and all. of the Black women who were hired lost their jobs during a.

What was the ruling of the court in DeGraffenreid v General Motors 1976 )? ›

The Court is of the opinion that, as a matter of law, defendant General Motors is not guilty of sex discrimination. This is especially true when the impact of the Missouri Protective Law, § 290.040, R.S.Mo., 1969, is considered in light of the hiring practices of defendant General Motors.

Why was Emma DeGraffenreid case dismissed? ›

She cited the case of Emma DeGraffenreid, an African-American woman who sued GM, claiming that she had faced employment discrimination based on race and gender. The judge, finding that African-Americans and women had both been hired by the company, dismissed her case.

What is an Intersectional person? ›

(Oxford Dictionary) Intersectionality is a framework for conceptualizing a person, group of people, or social problem as affected by a number of discriminations and disadvantages. It takes into account people's overlapping identities and experiences in order to understand the complexity of prejudices they face.

What are examples of intersectionality? ›

For example, on average, women make less than men in the workplace. But, minority women make even less in the workplace. In this instance, their gender and ethnicity are interconnected in creating further disadvantages.

What are intersectional erasures? ›

INTERSECTIONAL ERASURE. Be aware of the multiple identities of your co-workers, students and families. Understand that categories of identity and difference cannot be separated and avoid abandoning one category of analysis in favor of (over)analyzing others (Miller, 2014).

What is Kimberlé Crenshaw's intersectionality quizlet? ›

Intersectionality introduced by Kimberle Crenshaw: § How biological, social and cultural categories (gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, etc.) & other axes of identity intersect on multiple and simultaneous levels. § How those intersections contribute to & are shaped by systematic social inequalities.

What does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protect? ›

88-352) (Title VII), as amended, as it appears in volume 42 of the United States Code, beginning at section 2000e. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

What kind of discrimination did Emma DeGraffenreid and other black woman filed a lawsuit against General Motors? ›

As she wrote in The Washington Post: “In 1976, Emma DeGraffenreid and several other black women sued General Motors for discrimination, arguing that the company segregated its workforce by race and gender: Blacks did one set of jobs and whites did another.

How does Kimberlé Crenshaw define Intersectionality? ›

Legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” in 1989 to describe how systems of oppression overlap to create distinct experiences for people with multiple identity categories.

When was the Emma DeGraffenreid case? ›

Plaintiffs DeGraffenreid, Hines, and Chapman filed a complaint with the EEOC on or about August 28, 1974. The EEOC subsequently issued a right-to-sue letter, and this action was filed on June 2, 1975. As previously noted, prior to 1970, GM employed but one black female employee, as a janitor.

What are the three main factors involved in intersectionality? ›

These factors include: race, indigeneity, socioeconomic status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, (dis)ability, spirituality, immigration/refugee status, language, and education. One of the ideas of intersectionality is for individuals, groups and communities to self-identify.

Why is intersectionality important in the workplace? ›

Intersectionality considers different systems of oppression, and specifically how they overlap and are compounded. This is increasingly important because more companies are giving attention to DEI than ever, but often with a narrow, single-minded strategy: “We're focusing on women first.”

What does intersectionality mean in simple terms? ›

More explicitly, the Oxford Dictionary defines intersectionality as “the interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage”.

How do I become more intersectional? ›

Six ways organisations can improve on intersectionality
  1. Recognise individual identities. ...
  2. Capture data to improve intersectionality. ...
  3. Create a culture of acknowledgement and understanding. ...
  4. Capture diversity of thought. ...
  5. Help leaders to understand intersectionality. ...
  6. Educate colleagues on intersectionality.
Mar 10, 2021

What is another word for intersectionality? ›

What is another word for intersectionality?
3 more rows

What are the benefits of intersectionality? ›

Intersectionality provides a lens through which we can examine the processes, practices, policies, and structures that increase the risk of students experiencing disadvantage or discrimination because of their intersecting identities.

Why was intersectionality created? ›

Feminist thought. In 1989, Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality as a way to help explain the oppression of African-American women in her essay "Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A black Feminist Critique of Anti-discrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics".

What is intersectional feminism? ›

Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American law professor who coined the term in 1989 explained Intersectional feminism as, “a prism for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other,” in a recent interview with Time. “All inequality is not created equal,” she says.

Why is Kimberlé Crenshaw important? ›

Kimberlé W. Crenshaw is a pioneering scholar and writer on civil rights, critical race theory, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. In addition to her position at Columbia Law School, she is a Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles.

What does intersectionality refer to quizlet? ›

What is intersectionality? It is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.

What happens when Joy tried to cheer up Bing Bong when he is feeling sad quizlet? ›

What happens when Joy tried to cheer up "Bing Bong" when he is feeling sad? Your sympathetic nervous system has just been activated.

What do most libertarians tend to believe quizlet? ›

What do most Libertarians tend to believe? Many government functions would be performed better by private businesses.

What are the 5 civil rights? ›

Examples of civil rights include the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, the right to government services, the right to a public education, and the right to use public facilities.

Who is exempt from Title VII? ›

Private and public sector employers with 15 or more workers. State and local governmental agencies. Employment agencies. Apprenticeship programs.

What is considered discrimination at work? ›

The laws enforced by EEOC protect you from employment discrimination when it involves: Unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older), or genetic information.

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