• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that a group complaining of employment discrimination must include all other relevant groups in its complaint; this ruling was largely overturned by the 1991 Civil Rights Act.

Chief Justice William H. RehnquistRehnquist, William H.;Martin v. Wilks[Martin v. Wilks] wrote the decision for the 5-4 majority, holding that African American firefighters who complained of hiring and promotion discrimination should have included all white firefighters in their original complaint. The African Americans did not, and the lower court ruled that the white firefighters attempted to intervene too late in the proceedings. The lower court allowed a consent decree to be entered which the white firefighters regarded as a form of reverse discrimination. The Supreme Court overturned the consent decree favoring the African American employees, but Congress believed that the Court went too far and amended the Civil Rights Act in 1991 to make it marginally easier for African Americans to file employment discrimination complaints. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a strong dissent in which he was joined by Justices Thurgood Marshall, William J. Brennan, Jr., and Harry A. Blackmun.Discrimination, employment;Martin v. Wilks[Martin v. Wilks]

Due process, procedural

Due process, substantive

Employment discrimination

Fourteenth Amendment

Race and discrimination

Reversals of Court decisions by Congress

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