Case: United States and Taxman v. Piscataway Township

2:92-cv-00340 | U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Filed Date: Jan. 28, 1992

Closed Date: 1997

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

The school board of Piscataway, New Jersey needed to eliminate a teaching position. Under New Jersey state law, tenured teachers have to be laid off in reverse order of seniority. The newest tenured teachers, Sharon Taxman and Debra Williams, white and African-American respectively, had started working at the school on the same day. Williams was the only black teacher in her department, and 50% of the students were minorities. In the interest of maintaining racial diversity, the school board …

The school board of Piscataway, New Jersey needed to eliminate a teaching position. Under New Jersey state law, tenured teachers have to be laid off in reverse order of seniority. The newest tenured teachers, Sharon Taxman and Debra Williams, white and African-American respectively, had started working at the school on the same day. Williams was the only black teacher in her department, and 50% of the students were minorities. In the interest of maintaining racial diversity, the school board voted to lay off Taxman. Taxman complained to the EEOC, saying that the board had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title VII gives the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) the authority to enforce Title VII against public employers, after the EEOC processes such charges. In 1992, DOJ filed suit in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, seeking injunctive and compensatory relief. The DOJ alleged that Piscataway's affirmative action plan constituted reverse discrimination, in violation of Title VII. Taxman intervened as a plaintiff as well.

The Board of Education defended by arguing that the affirmative action plan was valid because it served a valuable educational goal. On August 4, 1992, the District Court (Judge Maryanne Trump Barry) denied the defendant's motion to dismiss. 798 F. Supp. 1093 (D.N.J. 1992). On September 10, 1993, the District Court granted the DOJ's motion for partial summary judgment. U.S. v. Board of Educ. of Tp. of Piscataway, 832 F. Supp. 836 (D.N.J.1993). The court held that promoting racial diversity among teachers for the sake of education was an impermissible purpose for an affirmative action plan, and that Title VII does not permit this type of race-conscious plan. The court further concluded that even were the asserted purposes legally sufficient to justify the Board's plan, the plan would be unlawful because it unnecessarily trammels the rights of nonminorities.

Piscataway appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. After the start of the Clinton administration, the Department of Justice (which had filed the suit as a plaintiff) filed a brief switching sides, arguing that the district court had erred and that Piscataway's plan was lawful. The Court of Appeals eventually allowed the U.S. to simply withdraw from the case. On the merits, it agreed with the district court. Piscataway School Board v. Taxman, 91 F.3d 1547 (3d Cir. 1996). The school board sought review in the United States Supreme Court, which granted certiorari; the Supreme Court hearing was scheduled for January 1998, but civil rights groups, fearing that the case could lead to the prohibition of affirmative action, if the Supreme Court agreed with the Third Circuit, provided substantial money for the parties to settle the case out of court. Accordingly, the case was dismissed from the Supreme Court's docket, prior to the argument.

People


Judge(s)

Alito, Samuel A. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Barry, Maryanne Trump (New Jersey)

Becker, Edward Roy (Pennsylvania)

Cowen, Robert E. (New Jersey)

Greenberg, Morton Ira (New Jersey)

Lewis, Timothy K. (Pennsylvania)

Mansmann, Carol Los (Pennsylvania)

McKee, Theodore Alexander (Pennsylvania)

Nygaard, Richard Lowell (Pennsylvania)

Roth, Jane Richards (Delaware)

Judge(s)

Alito, Samuel A. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Barry, Maryanne Trump (New Jersey)

Becker, Edward Roy (Pennsylvania)

Cowen, Robert E. (New Jersey)

Greenberg, Morton Ira (New Jersey)

Lewis, Timothy K. (Pennsylvania)

Mansmann, Carol Los (Pennsylvania)

McKee, Theodore Alexander (Pennsylvania)

Nygaard, Richard Lowell (Pennsylvania)

Roth, Jane Richards (Delaware)

Sarokin, H. Lee (New Jersey)

Scirica, Anthony Joseph (Pennsylvania)

Sloviter, Dolores Korman (Pennsylvania)

Stapleton, Walter King (Delaware)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Cassell, Susan C. (New Jersey)

Chertoff, Michael (Pennsylvania)

Dulen, Maureen T (District of Columbia)

Fenton, William B. (District of Columbia)

Schlesinger, Steven H. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Rubin, David B (New Jersey)

Other Attorney(s)

Klausner, Stephen E. (New Jersey)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2:92-cv-00340

Docket [PACER]

USA v. Township of Piscataway

Dec. 17, 1997

Dec. 17, 1997

Docket

94-05112

Docket

United States of America v. Piscataway Board of Education

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Jan. 26, 1998

Jan. 26, 1998

Docket
23

2:92-cv-00340

Opinion of District Court

United States v. Board of Education of Township of Piscataway

798 F.Supp. 1093

Aug. 4, 1992

Aug. 4, 1992

Order/Opinion
49

2:92-cv-00340

Opinion

United States v. Board of Education of the Township of Piscataway

832 F.Supp. 836

Sept. 10, 1993

Sept. 10, 1993

Order/Opinion

94-05090

94-05112

Court of Appeals Order

United States of America, Taxman v. Board of Education of the Township of Piscataway

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

1995 WL 704036

Nov. 17, 1995

Nov. 17, 1995

Order/Opinion

94-05090

94-05112

Opinion

Taxman v. Board of Education of the Township of Piscataway

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

91 F.3d 1547

Aug. 21, 1996

Aug. 21, 1996

Order/Opinion

96-00679

Memorandum Decisions

Piscataway Township Board of Education v. Taxman

Supreme Court of the United States

519 U.S. 1089, 117 S.Ct. 763, 136 L.Ed.2d 710

Jan. 21, 1997

Jan. 21, 1997

Order/Opinion

96-00679

Memorandum Decisions

Piscataway Township Board of Education v. Taxman

Supreme Court of the United States

522 U.S. 1010, 118 S.Ct. 595, 139 L.Ed.2d 431

Dec. 2, 1997

Dec. 2, 1997

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 9, 2022, 3:04 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New Jersey

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 28, 1992

Closing Date: 1997

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

United States and a white school teacher

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE TOWNSHIP OF PISCATAWAY (Piscataway, Middlesex), City

Defendant Type(s):

Elementary/Secondary School

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Damages

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 1994 - 1994

Issues

General:

Disparate Treatment

Discrimination-area:

Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

White