Cooper v. Federal Reserve Bank Of Richmond

467 U.S. 867 (1984).


A class made up of former, and current employees (P) of Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (D) filed a class-action suit for the denial of equal promotional opportunity because of their race. They alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Several class members (Baxter) filed separate suits. Four individuals including Cooper were permitted to intervene. The class was certified under Rule 23(b)(2) and (b)(3). It including all black employees of D who had been discriminated against. Baxter and the others received notice of the action but did not opt out. At the trial of the class-action suit, the court found insufficient evidence of discriminatory patterns in promotions. But the court found that D had engaged in a pattern of discrimination against employees in certain pay grades. The Baxter plaintiffs had filed separate actions alleging a violation of 42 USC 1981. D moved to dismiss the individual suits under res judicata. All the parties in those suits were employed in grades other than 4 or 5, and since there was no class-wide discrimination outside those grades, the P judgment should be res judicata to Baxter. The district court denied the motion, but the Fourth Circuit reversed on grounds that there was insufficient evidence to establish a pattern or practice of racial discrimination. They held that Baxter was precluded from bringing suit under res judicata. The Supreme Court granted review.