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CONSOL. RAIL CORP. V. DARRONE, 465 U. S. 624 (1984)

U.S. Supreme Court

Consol. Rail Corp. v. Darrone, 465 U.S. 624 (1984)

Consolidated Rail Corporation v. Darrone

No. 82-862

Argued November 29, 1983

Decided February 28, 1984

465 U.S. 624


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides that

"[n]o . . . handicapped individual . . . shall, solely by reason of his handicap, . . . be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Section 505(a)(2), which was added to the Act in 1978, makes "available" the "remedies, procedures, and rights" set forth in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) for suits under § 504 against "any recipient of Federal assistance." Petitioner was formed under the Regional Rail Reorganization Act to acquire and operate insolvent railroads, and, as authorized by statute, has sold its securities to the United States, the proceeds of which sales are permitted to be used for maintenance of rail properties, capital needs, refinancing of indebtedness, or working capital. Petitioner also received federal funds to provide for reassignment and retraining of railroad workers whose jobs were affected by the reorganization, and now receives federal funds to provide termination allowances to workers who lost their jobs as a result of the reorganization. Respondent's decedent filed suit in Federal District Court against petitioner for violation of his rights under § 504, alleging that, while employed as a locomotive engineer by a railroad to which petitioner is the successor in interest, he suffered an accident requiring amputation of his left hand and forearm, and that thereafter the railroad and the petitioner refused to employ him. The District Court granted petitioner's motion for summary judgment on the ground that the decedent had no "standing" to bring a private action under § 504. The court held that § 505(a)(2) had incorporated the limitation in § 604 of Title VI, which provides that employment discrimination is actionable only when the employer receives federal financial assistance the "primary objective" of which is to provide employment, and that the federal assistance to petitioner did not satisfy this "primary objective" test. The Court of Appeals reversed.


1. The death of respondent's decedent did not moot the case, since it is clear that § 504 authorizes a plaintiff who alleges intentional discrimination (as was done here) to bring an equitable action for backpay. Pp. 465 U. S. 630-631.

Page 465 U. S. 625

2. The suit may be maintained even if petitioner receives no federal aid the primary objective of which is to promote employment. Pp. 465 U. S. 631-637.

(a) Section 504's language suggests that its bar on employment discrimination should not be limited to programs that receive such federal aid. The legislative history, executive interpretation, and the Rehabilitation Act's purpose to promote and expand employment opportunities for the handicapped all are consistent with this construction. Pp. 465 U. S. 631-634.

(b) Nor did Congress intend to enact the "primary objective" requirement of § 604 of Title VI into the Rehabilitation Act when it added § 505(a)(2) to the Act in 1978. Section 505(a)(2)'s language does not incorporate § 604's "primary objective" limitation. Rather, the legislative history reveals that § 505(a)(2) was intended to codify regulations governing enforcement of § 504 that prohibited employment discrimination regardless of the purpose of federal financial assistance. P. 465 U. S. 635.

687 F.2d 767, affirmed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 465 U. S. 626

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