CHANDLER v. ROUDEBUSH, ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.
Argued March 2, 1976.
Decided June 1, 1976.
Section 717 (c) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as added by 11 of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, provides that within a specified period after notice of final administrative action on a federal employee's discrimination complaint by the employing agency, or by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), upon an appeal from the agency's order, or after a specified period of delay by the agency or the CSC, the employee "may file a civil action" as provided in the statute, against the agency head. Petitioner, a Negro, claiming that her failure to receive a promotion by the Veterans' Administration was sexually and racially discriminatory, after exhausting her administrative remedies brought suit under 717 (c). She was not allowed to proceed with discovery, the District Court having determined that "the absence of discrimination is firmly established by the clear weight of the administrative record." The court thereupon granted summary judgment in favor of respondents. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Held: The plain meaning of the statute, reinforced by the legislative history of the 1972 amendments, compels the conclusion that federal employees have the same right to a trial de novo as is enjoyed by private-sector or state-government employees under the amended Civil Rights Act of 1964. Pp. 843-864.
515 F.2d 251, reversed and remanded.
STEWART, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
Joel L. Selig argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Paul R. Dimond, J. Harold Flannery, and Stuart P. Herman.
Assistant Attorney General Lee argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Solicitor General [425 U.S. 840, 841] Bork, Deputy Solicitor General Wallace, Kenneth S. Geller, and Robert E. Kopp. *
[ Footnote * ] Jack Greenberg, James M. Nabrit III, Charles Stephen Ralston, Melvyn Leventhal, and Eric Schnapper filed a brief for the N. A. A. C. P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., as amicus curiae urging reversal.
MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.
In 1972 Congress extended the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. IV), to employees of the Federal Government. A principal goal of the amending legislation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, Pub. L. 92-261, 86 Stat. 103, was to eradicate "`entrenched discrimination in the Federal service,'" Morton v. Mancari, 417 U.S. 535, 547 , by strengthening internal safeguards and by according "[a]ggrieved [federal] employees or applicants . . . the full rights available in the courts as are granted to individuals in the private sector under title VII." 1 The issue presented by this case is whether the 1972 Act gives federal employees the same right to a trial de novo of employment discrimination claims as "private sector" employees enjoy under Title VII.
The petitioner, Mrs. Jewell Chandler, is a Negro. In 1972 she was employed as a claims examiner by the Veterans' Administration. In August of that year she applied for a promotion to the position of supervisory claims examiner. Following a selection procedure she was designated as one of three finalists for the position. [425 U.S. 840, 842] The promotion was awarded to a Filipino-American male. The petitioner subsequently filed a complaint with the Veterans' Administration alleging that she had been denied the promotion because of unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex and race. After an administrative hearing on the claim, the presiding complaints examiner submitted proposed findings to the effect that the petitioner had been discriminated against on the basis of sex but not race and recommended that she be given a retroactive promotion to the position for which she had applied. The agency rejected the proposed finding of sex discrimination as not "substantiated by the evidence," and accordingly granted no relief. 2 The petitioner filed a timely appeal to the Civil Service Commission Board of Appeals and Review, which affirmed the agency's decision.
Within 30 days after receiving notice of the Commission's decision, the petitioner brought the present suit in a Federal District Court under 717 (c) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as added by 11 of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, 86 Stat. 111, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-16 (c) (1970 ed., Supp. IV). After moving unsuccessfully for summary judgment, she initiated discovery proceedings by filing notice of two depositions and a request for the production of documents. The respondents moved for an order prohibiting discovery on the ground that the judicial action authorized by 717 (c) is limited to a review of the administrative record. The petitioner opposed the motion, asserting that she had a right under 717 (c) to a plenary judicial trial de novo. The District Court adopted the holding of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Hackley v. Johnson, 360 F. Supp. 1247, rev'd [425 U.S. 840, 843] sub nom. Hackley v. Roudebush, 171 U.S. App. D.C. 376, 520 F.2d 108, that a "trial de novo is not required [under 717 (c)] in all cases" and that review of the administrative record is sufficient if "an absence of discrimination is affirmatively established by the clear weight of the evidence in the record . . . ." 360 F. Supp., at 1252. 3 Applying this standard of review, the District Court determined that "the absence of discrimination is firmly established by the clear weight of the administrative record" and granted summary judgment in favor of the respondents. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment, agreeing with the District Court's ruling that 717 (c) contemplates not a trial de novo but the "intermediate scope of inquiry expounded in Hackley v. Johnson . . . ." Chandler v. Johnson, 515 F.2d 251, 255 (CA9). We granted certiorari to resolve a conflict among the Circuits concerning the nature of the judicial proceeding provided by 717 (c). 4 423 U.S. 821 .
We begin with the language of the statute. Section 717 (c), 42 U.S.C. 2000e-16 (c) (1970 ed., Supp. IV), [425 U.S. 840, 844] states that within 30 days after notice of final adverse administrative action on a federal employee's discrimination complaint by either the employing agency or the Civil Service Commission (in the event a permissive appeal is taken), or after 180 days of delay by the agency or the Commission, the employee "may file a civil action as provided in section 706, in which civil action the head of the department agency, or unit, as appropriate, shall be the defendant." Section 717 (d), 42 U.S.C. 2000e-16 (d) (1970 ed., Supp. IV), goes on to specify that "[t]he provisions of section 706 (f) through (k), as applicable, shall govern civil actions brought hereunder."
Section 706 (f) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5 (f) (1970 ed., Supp. IV), authorizes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to bring "civil actions" on behalf of private sector employees in federal district court. 5 Alternatively, 706 (f) (1) authorizes an individual employee to sue on his own behalf if a specified period of delay has elapsed or if the EEOC has declined to represent him on the basis of its initial determination that "there is not reasonable cause to believe that the charge is true . . . ." 706 (b), 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5 (b) (1970 ed., Supp. IV). Sections 706 (f) through (k), 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5 (f) through (k) (1970 ed. and Supp. IV), provide specific rules and guidelines for private-sector "civil actions."
It is well established that 706 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 accords private-sector employees the right to de novo consideration of their Title VII claims. Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36 ; McDonnell [425 U.S. 840, 845] Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 798 -799; Norman v. Missouri Pacific R. Co., 414 F.2d 73, 75 n. 2 (CA8). The "employee's statutory right to a trial de novo under Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] . . .," Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., supra, at 38, embodies a congressional decision to "vest federal courts with plenary powers to enforce the [substantive] requirements [of Title VII] . . . ." Id., at 47.
The 1972 amendments to the 1964 Act added language to 706 which reflects the de novo character of the private sector "civil action" even more clearly than did the 1964 version. 6 Section 706 (f) (4), 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5 (f) (4) (1970 ed., Supp. IV), for instance, requires the chief judge of the district in which a "civil action" is pending to "immediately . . . designate a judge in such district to hear and determine the case." The judge so designated must "assign the case for hearing at the earliest practicable date . . . ." 706 (f) (5). If the case has not been "scheduled . . . for trial within one hundred and twenty days after issue has been joined," then the designated judge may appoint a special master to hear it. Ibid. And, as under the 1964 version, if the district court "finds" that the respondent has intentionally committed an unlawful employment practice, then the court may order appropriate relief. 706 (g), 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5 (g) (1970 ed., Supp. IV). The terminology employed by Congress - "assign the case for hearing," "scheduled . . . for trial," "finds" - indicates clearly that the "civil action" to which private-sector employees are entitled under the amended version of Title VII is to be a trial de novo.
Since federal-sector employees are entitled by 717 (c) to "file a civil action as provided in section 706 [42 U.S.C. 2000e-5 (1970 ed., Supp. IV)]" and since [425 U.S. 840, 846] the civil action provided in 706 is a trial de novo, it would seem to follow syllogistically that federal employees are entitled to a trial de novo of their employment discrimination claims. The Court of Appeals, however, held that a contrary result was indicated by the words "as applicable" in 717 (d) and by the legislative history of 717, and in support of that position the respondents further argue that routine de novo trials of federal employees' claims would clash with the 1972 Act's delegation of enforcement responsibilities to the Civil Service Commission and would contravene this Court's view that "de novo review is generally not to be presumed." Consolo v. FMC, 383 U.S. 607, 619 n. 17.
A. The Meaning of the Phrase "As Applicable"
The opinion of the District Court for the District of Columbia in Hackley v. Johnson, relied on by the Court of Appeals here, expressed the view that the phrase "as applicable" in 717 (d) evidences a congressional intent to restrict or qualify the right to a de novo proceeding granted by 717 (c). 360 F. Supp., at 1252 n. 9. A careful reading of 717 (d) and the provisions to which it refers indicates, however, that the phrase was intended merely to reflect the fact that certain provisions in 706 (f) through (k) pertain to aspects of the Title VII enforcement scheme that have no possible relevance to judicial proceedings involving federal employees.
Section 717 (d) states that "[t]he provisions of section 706 (f) through (k), as applicable, shall govern civil actions brought hereunder." Sections 706 (f) through (k) set forth specific procedures and guidelines to be followed in private-sector "civil actions." Several of these procedures could not possibly apply to civil actions involving federal employees. Section 706 (f) (1), for instance, provides that in the private sector the EEOC "may bring a civil action against any respondent [425 U.S. 840, 847] not a government, governmental agency, or political subdivision" and that the Attorney General of the United States may bring a civil action for employment discrimination against a state government, agency, or political subdivision. The individual complainant retains the right to intervene in suits brought by the EEOC or the Attorney General. In the case of a "civil action" maintained by an individual complainant against a private or state governmental employer, the EEOC or the Attorney General, respectively, may be permitted to intervene "upon certification that the case is of general public importance." These provisions, allowing suits and permissive intervention by the EEOC or the Attorney General, could have no possible application to "civil actions" under 717 (c), because the individual federal employee or job applicant is the only party who can institute and maintain a "civil action" under that subsection.
Similarly, the provision in 706 (f) (2) permitting the EEOC or the Attorney General to "bring an action for appropriate temporary or preliminary relief pending final disposition" of a charge where the EEOC has "conclude[d] on the basis of a preliminary investigation that prompt judicial action is necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act" could not possibly apply without modification to "civil actions" involving federal employees, because the EEOC is given no general responsibility for investigating or prosecuting the complaints of federal employees.
The most natural reading of the phrase "as applicable" in 717 (d) is that it merely reflects the inapplicability of provisions in 706 (f) through (k) detailing the enforcement responsibilities of the EEOC and the Attorney General. 7 We cannot, therefore, agree with the view [425 U.S. 840, 848] expressed by the District Court in Hackley v. Johnson, supra, and relied on by the Court of Appeals here, that Congress used the words "as applicable" to voice its intent to disallow trials de novo by aggrieved federal employees who have received prior administrative hearings. As the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held in reversing Hackley v. Johnson, supra, such an interpretation of the phrase "as applicable" would require a strained and unnatural reading of 706 (f) through (k). Hackley v. Roudebush, 171 U.S. App. D.C., at 389, 520 F.2d, at 121. This Court pointed out in Lynch v. Alworth-Stephens Co., 267 U.S. 364, 370 , that "`the plain, obvious and rational meaning of a statute is always to be preferred to any curious, narrow, hidden sense that nothing but the exigency of a hard case and the ingenuity and study of an acute and powerful intellect would discover.'" To read the phrase "as applicable" in 717 (d) as obliquely qualifying the federal employee's right to a trial de novo under 717 (c) rather than as merely reflecting the inapplicability to 717 (c) actions of provisions relating to the enforcement responsibilities of the EEOC or the Attorney General would violate this elementary canon of construction.
B. Legislative History
The legislative history of the 1972 amendments reinforces the plain meaning of the statute and confirms that Congress intended to accord federal employees the same right to a trial de novo as is enjoyed by private-sector employees and employees of state governments and political subdivisions under the amended Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Two themes dominated the debates, proposals, and committee reports which preceded the enactment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. The first was the inadequacy of the individually instituted and [425 U.S. 840, 849] maintained trial de novo as an enforcement technique in the private sector under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 8 The second was federal employees' lack of adequate internal safeguards against employment discrimination and Congress' perception of their lack of access to the courts to raise claims of job discrimination. 9 [425 U.S. 840, 850]
In 1971, the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare reported out bills designed to remedy these deficiencies. The proposed bills, H. R. 1746 and S. 2515, gave the EEOC cease-and-desist powers in the private sector while retaining the private-sector complainant's pre-existing right to a trial de novo in certain instances. 10 The grant of cease-and-desist power to the EEOC provoked strong dissenting statements in both committee reports. While nearly all members of both committees agreed that the EEOC should be given enforcement powers in the private sector, 11 there was sharp disagreement over whether the EEOC should be given the power merely to institute de novo suits in federal trial courts on behalf of employees or the power actually to adjudicate discrimination controversies subject only to review on a substantial-evidence basis in the federal courts of appeals.
The dissenting members of the two committees favored the trial de novo approach. As Senator Dominick put it in a minority statement in the Senate Report:
It was against this backdrop of focused debate on the issue of administrative agency versus wholly judicial enforcement machinery in the area of discrimination in private employment that the two committees proposed extending to a federal employee the right to file a "civil action" if "aggrieved" by his employing agency's action in dealing with his complaint of discrimination. The fact that the federal employee, prior to filing such a "civil action," would have enjoyed the benefit of improved internal safeguards, including "appropriate procedures for an impartial [agency] adjudication of the complain[t]," 17 might well have provided a rationale for reposing primary adjudicative authority in the appropriate federal agency rather than in the district courts. But the two committees clearly chose to permit de novo judicial trial of such complaints rather than mere judicial review of employing agency determinations: In both the House and Senate Committee Bills, the sections which accorded an aggrieved federal employee the right to file a "civil action" following adverse agency action referred not to the substantial-evidence review provisions applicable to EEOC cease-and-desist orders but rather to [425 U.S. 840, 853] other provisions which retained the private-sector employees right to a trial de novo in specified circumstances. 18 It is inconceivable that the two congressional committees, which were keenly aware of the consequences of vesting in an administrative agency rather than in the federal courts the primary adjudicative responsibility, did not act in a knowing and deliberate manner in thus equating a federal employee's "civil action" with private-sector plenary trials and in eschewing any reference to the private-sector provisions of the proposed legislation which provided for agency adjudication subject only to review on a substantial-evidence basis in the federal courts of appeals. 19
In short, the bills reported out of the Senate and House committees and the accompanying Reports reveal a thorough and meticulous consideration of the question whether an administrative agency or a court should be given primary adjudicative responsibility for particular [425 U.S. 840, 854] categories of Title VII complaints and an unambiguous choice to grant federal employees the right to plenary trials in the federal district courts. 20
The House Committee Bill was opposed on the floor of the House on the ground that it placed primary adjudicative responsibility over private-sector Title VII complaints in an agency which was also responsible for prosecuting such complaints. Opponents contended that such a commingling of functions would bias the agency's adjudications. 21 This argument prevailed, and H. R. 1746 was amended on the floor by H. R. 9247, 22 which granted the EEOC the right to file private-sector "civil actions" in district court but not the power to issue cease-and desist orders. 23 The amendment changed H. R. 1746 in one other important respect: It deleted the provisions [425 U.S. 840, 855] extending Title VII to federal employees. 24 As amended, H. R. 1746 passed the House. 25
The Senate Committee Bill, like its House counterpart, was strongly opposed on the floor. As in the House, controversy centered on whether agency adjudication with limited appellate judicial review in the federal appellate courts should be the technique by which the EEOC would enforce Title VII in the private sector. 26 Early in the four-week Senate floor debate which preceded passage of S. 2515, Senator Dominick introduced an amendment which would replace the EEOC's cease-and desist authority with a right to institute de novo proceedings in the federal district courts on behalf of private-sector employees. 27 This amendment conformed to the dissenting views he had expressed in the Senate Report. 28 The principal aim of the amendment was to separate prosecutorial from adjudicative functions in private-sector Title VII proceedings. 29
A central theme of Senator Dominick's argument, stressed repeatedly in the floor debate, was that the Committee Bill already contemplated the resolution of federal employees' claims through district court and not agency [425 U.S. 840, 856] adjudication. Speaking of the Senate committee's deliberations, Senator Dominick stated that when the committee had "examined the Federal employee situation" he had
Senator Dominick's amendment was eventually adopted 32 and S. 2515, as amended, passed the Senate. 33 The House had already passed the amended version of H. R. 1746, which differed from the amended Senate Committee Bill in that it did not apply to federal employees. The bills accordingly went to a conference committee, which adopted the Senate Committee Bill's provision extending Title VII to federal employees. 34 The conference bill was enacted by the Senate and the House.
Since the federal employee provisions of the Senate [425 U.S. 840, 858] bill were eventually adopted by the conference committee and passed by Congress, the legislative history of that bill is the most helpful on the issue presented here. 35 The sequence of debate, amendment, and Senate passage of S. 2515 shows unmistakably that the Senate decided to provide both private-and federal-sector employees the adjudicative mechanism which the Senate committee had advocated for federal-, but not private-sector, employees. No changes were made or even proposed with respect to the committee's choice to allow federal employees judicial trials rather than "substantial evidence" review of administrative dispositions of their discrimination claims. On the contrary, it was the federal-sector de novo procedure which served as the model for Senator Dominick's proposed alteration of private-sector enforcement provisions. The passage of the Dominick amendment and the subsequent approval of S. 2515 by the Senate achieved the parity which Senator Dominick had advocated - judicial trial de novo for private as well as federal employees. 36 [425 U.S. 840, 859]
The Court of Appeals held that "the district judge faced with a demand for a trial de novo is entitled to determine, at a pretrial conference or otherwise, why the plaintiff believes that a trial de novo is necessary," 515 F.2d, at 255, and concluded that the petitioner had presented "nothing before the district court to indicate that [425 U.S. 840, 860] a useful purpose would be served by having a trial de novo." Ibid. This approach substantially parallels the holding in Hackley v. Johnson:
C. Presumption Against De Novo Review
Given the clear expression of congressional intent, as revealed in both the plain language of 717 and the legislative history of the 1972 amendments, we find unpersuasive the respondents' reliance on decisions by this Court indicating that "de novo review is generally not to be presumed." Consolo v. FMC, 383 U.S., at 619 n. 17; United States v. Carlo Bianchi & Co., 373 U.S. 709, 715 .
Consolo involved review of agency action under provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act giving "a reviewing court authority to `set aside agency action, [425 U.S. 840, 862] findings, and conclusions found to be (1) arbitrary, capricious, [or] an abuse of discretion . . . [or] (5) unsupported by substantial evidence . . . .'" 383 U.S., at 619 . In this context, the Court observed: "We do not read the opinion below as asserting that the Court of Appeals, in a direct review proceeding, may conduct a de novo review of the equities of a reparation award. We find nothing in the Shipping Act, the Hobbs Act, or the Administrative Procedure Act that would authorize a de novo review in these circumstances, and in the absence of specific statutory authorization, a de novo review is generally not to be presumed." Id., at 619 n. 17. Here, by contrast, there is a "specific statutory authorization" of a district court "civil action," which both the plain language of the statute and the legislative history reveal to be a trial de novo. 37 [425 U.S. 840, 863]
The respondents' contention that administrative dispositions of federal employee discrimination complaints would, unlike arbitral decisions under collective-bargaining agreements or preliminary EEOC findings of "no reasonable cause," typically furnish an adequate basis for "substantial evidence" review cannot overcome the clear import of the statutory language and the legislative history. The Congress was aware of the fact that federal employees would have the benefit of "appropriate procedures for an impartial [agency] adjudication of the complain[t]," 38 and yet chose to give employees who had been through those procedures the right to file a de novo "civil action" equivalent to that enjoyed by private-sector employees. 39 It may well be, as the respondents have argued, that routine trials de novo in the federal courts will tend ultimately to defeat, rather than to [425 U.S. 840, 864] advance, the basic purposes of the statutory scheme. But Congress has made the choice, and it is not for us to disturb it.
Since the Court of Appeals in this case erroneously concluded that 717 (c) does not accord a federal employee the same right to a trial de novo as private-sector employees enjoy under Title VII, its judgment must be reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
[ Footnote 2 ] The Veterans' Administration accepted the examiner's proposed finding of no race discrimination.
[ Footnote 3 ] The District Court in Hackley had held that even if that "exacting standard" were not met, a full trial de novo would not necessarily be required. Rather a district court could, "in its discretion, as appropriate, remand, take testimony to supplement the administrative record, or grant the plaintiff relief on the administrative record." 360 F. Supp., at 1252.
[ Footnote 4 ] Four Courts of Appeals have held that 717 (c) gives federal employees the right to a trial de novo in the district court. Abrams v. Johnson, 534 F.2d 1226 (CA6); Caro v. Schultz, 521 F.2d 1084 (CA7); Hackley v. Roudebush, 171 U.S. App. D.C. 376, 520 F.2d 108; Sperling v. United States, 515 F.2d 465 (CA3). Three other Courts of Appeals have held that federal employees are not generally entitled to trials de novo. Haire v. Calloway, 526 F.2d 246 (CA8); Chandler v. Johnson, 515 F.2d 251 (CA9) (opinion below); Salone v. United States, 511 F.2d 902 (CA10).
[ Footnote 5 ] The Attorney General of the United States is given responsibility for instituting Title VII civil actions on behalf of employees of state governments, governmental agencies, or political subdivisions. 706 (f) (1), 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5 (f) (1) (1970 ed., Supp. IV).
[ Footnote 6 ] Civil Rights Act of 1964, 706, 78 Stat. 259.
[ Footnote 7 ] See Hackley v. Roudebush, 171 U.S. App. D.C., at 387-388, 520 F.2d, at 119-120.
[ Footnote 8 ] As stated in the Senate Report:
[ Footnote 9 ] The Senate Report stated:
[ Footnote 10 ] Under both committee bills, the private-sector employee could bring a civil action within 60 days after the EEOC gave notice that it had dismissed the charge of employment discrimination or that 180 days had elapsed from the filing of the charge without the EEOC having issued a complaint or having entered into an acceptable conciliation agreement. H. R. 1746, 92d Cong., 1st Sess., 8 (j) (1971) (hereinafter cited as H. R. 1746 or House Committee Bill); S. 2515, 92d Cong., 1st Sess., 4 (a) (1971) (hereinafter cited as S. 2515 or Senate Committee Bill).
[ Footnote 11 ] Representatives Ashbrook and Landgrebe did not favor granting the EEOC any enforcement authority. H. R. Rep. No. 92-238, p. 70 (1971) (hereinafter cited as House Report).
[ Footnote 12 ] Senate Report 85. Similar minority views were expressed in the Report of the House committee. House Report 58-63.
[ Footnote 13 ] Id., at 10-11.
[ Footnote 14 ] Senate Report 18.
[ Footnote 15 ] Id., at 17-19.
[ Footnote 16 ] Id., at 17.
[ Footnote 17 ] House Report 26.
[ Footnote 18 ] The House committee Bill, supra, n. 10, provided in relevant part that a federal employee, if aggrieved by final administrative disposition of his complaint, "may file a civil action as provided in section 715 . . . ." 11. Section 715 of the proposed bill preserved the private-sector employee's right to institute a trial de novo in certain limited circumstances. 8 (j). See n. 10, supra.
The Senate Committee Bill, supra, n. 10, provided in relevant part that a federal employee, if aggrieved by final administrative disposition of his complaint or by failure to take action on his complaint, "may file a civil action as provided in section 706 (q) . . . ." 11. Section 706 (q) of the proposed bill preserved the private-sector employee's right to a trial de novo in specified instances. 4 (a). See n. 10, supra.
[ Footnote 19 ] The House and Senate Reports as well as the Committee Bills themselves evince a detailed awareness of the interaction in the private sector of the new cease-and-desist remedy and the pre-existing right to a trial de novo. See House Committee Bill 8 (j); House Report 12; Senate Committee Bill 4 (a); Senate Report 24.
[ Footnote 20 ] The respondents argued that because private-sector employees enjoyed only a conditional right to plenary trials under the Senate Committee Bill and because the committee intended to give aggrieved federal employees the same "rights . . . in the courts as are granted to individuals in the private sector under title VII," Senate Report 16, it follows that the Senate committee intended federal employees to have trials de novo only in circumstances analogous to those where private-sector employees would enjoy the same right - i. e., where the responsible agency had dismissed the charge without a hearing or where a sufficient period of delay had elapsed from the filing of the charge. This argument overlooks the fact that the provision in the Senate Committee Bill creating a federal employee's right to bring a "civil action" contained no reference to the substantial-evidence review provisions in the draft legislation but referred only to the provisions which pertained to private-sector trials de novo.
[ Footnote 21 ] E. g., 117 Cong. Rec. 31958-31959 (1971) (remarks of Rep. Martin); id., at 31969-31970 (remarks of Rep. Railsback); id., at 31972-31973 (remarks of Rep. Erlenborn); id., at 32091-32092 (remarks of Rep. Ford); id., at 32106 (remarks of Rep. Broomfield); id., at 32107-32108 (remarks of Rep. Shoup); id., at 32109-32110 (remarks of Rep. Fisher).
[ Footnote 22 ] Id., at 32111-32112.
[ Footnote 23 ] H. R. 9247, 92d Cong., 1st Sess., 3 (c) (1971).
[ Footnote 24 ] See id.; S. Conf. Rep. No. 92-681, pp. 20-21 (1972) (hereinafter referred to as Conference Report).
[ Footnote 25 ] 117 Cong. Rec. 32113 (1971).
[ Footnote 26 ] E. g., 118 Cong. Rec. 311-312 (1972) (remarks of Sen. Ervin); id., at 595 (remarks of Sen. Tower); id., at 731-732 (remarks of Sen. Saxbe); id., at 732 (remarks of Sen. Brock); id., at 735 (remarks of Sen. Williams); id., at 928-929 (remarks of Sen. Mondale); id., at 930 (remarks of Sen. Javits); id., at 931-932 (remarks of Sen. Allen); id., at 933 (remarks of Sen. Thurmond); id., at 943-944 (remarks of Sen. Talmadge); id., at 944 (remarks of Sen. Chiles); id., at 1384 (remarks of Sen. Weicker).
[ Footnote 27 ] Id., at 591-592.
[ Footnote 28 ] See Senate Report 86-87.
[ Footnote 29 ] 118 Cong. Rec. 592-593 (1972) (remarks of Sen. Dominick).
[ Footnote 30 ] Id., at 594.
[ Footnote 31 ] Id., at 595, 942, 943, 3389, 3809, 3967.
[ Footnote 32 ] Id., at 3979-3980.
[ Footnote 33 ] Id., at 4944.
[ Footnote 34 ] Conference Report 1, 10-11, 20-21.
[ Footnote 35 ] See Hackley v. Roudebush, 171 U.S. App. D.C., at 413, 520 F.2d, at 145; Sperling v. United States, 515 F.2d, at 473.
[ Footnote 36 ] The respondents argue that a statement in the floor debate by Senator Williams and a statement purportedly made in that debate by Senator Cranston indicate that Congress did not intend to give federal employees the right to plenary judicial trials but only the right to record review of agency proceedings. Near the close of the debate on S. 2515 Senator Williams spoke as follows:
Despite the fact that Senator Williams was one of the original sponsors of S. 2515 and its floor manager, we decline to give controlling weight to the quoted statement for three reasons. First, it is self-contradictory: While characterizing the federal-sector "civil action" as a "review of the administrative proceeding record," Senator Williams stated in the same breath that "[t]here is no reason why a Federal employee should not have the same private right of action enjoyed by individuals in the private sector . . . ." Yet the private right of action enjoyed by individuals in the private sector was to be a trial de novo under the pending bill. Second, the federal-sector provision before the Senate was precisely that which the Senate committee had proposed. Indeed, Senator Williams specifically applauded the committee for having "acted wisely in this regard." Yet the committee clearly chose to grant federal-sector employees the right to a trial de novo and omitted any reference to the record review provisions it advocated for private-sector cease-and-desist orders. The committee's unambiguous and unaltered treatment of federal-sector "civil actions" is more probative of congressional intent than the casual remark of a single Senator in the floor debate. Cf. United States v. Automobile Workers, 352 U.S. 567, 585 ; Sperling v. United States, supra, at 480. Finally, as Senator Williams himself acknowledged earlier in the debate, Senator Dominick rather than he was "[t]he principal architect of . . . changes dealing with the civil service area . . . ." 118 Cong. Rec. 595 (1972). That statement was made immediately after Senator Dominick's discussion of the Senate committee's decision to grant federal employees the right to bring "civil actions" in district court rather than the right to have administrative adjudication of their claims with substantial-evidence review in the courts. Id., at 594.
The other statement relied on by the respondents was purportedly [425 U.S. 840, 860] made by Senator Cranston during the final portion of the floor debate. The daily edition of the Congressional Record shows Senator Cranston as having made the following statement:
[ Footnote 37 ] United States v. Carlo Bianchi & Co., 373 U.S. 709 , involved review of agency action under the Wunderlich Act, which provided that a governmental decision on a question of fact arising under a "disputes" clause of a Government contract should be final and conclusive "`unless the same is fraudulent or capricious or arbitrary or so grossly erroneous as necessarily to imply bad faith, or is not supported by substantial evidence.'" Id., at 714. The Court held that this language indicated that Congress intended to limit review to the administrative record and observed that even "in cases where Congress has simply provided for review, without setting forth the standards to be used or the procedures to be followed, this Court has held that consideration is to be confined to the administrative record and that no de novo proceeding may be held." Id., at 715. Here Congress has not "simply provided for review" but has affirmatively chosen to grant federal employees the right to maintain a trial de novo.
In most instances, of course, where Congress intends review to be confined to the administrative record, it so indicates, either expressly or by use of a term like "substantial evidence," which has "become a term of art to describe the basis on which an administrative record is to be judged by a reviewing court." Ibid. E. g., 5 U.S.C. 706 (scope-of-review provision of Administrative Procedure Act); 12 U.S.C. 1848 (scope-of-review [425 U.S. 840, 863] provision applicable to certain orders of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System); 15 U.S.C. 21 (c) (scope-of-review provision applicable to certain orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Federal Trade Commission); 21 U.S.C. 371 (f) (3) (scope-of-review provision applicable to certain orders of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare).
[ Footnote 38 ] House Report 26.
[ Footnote 39 ] The goal may have been to compensate for the perceived fact that "[t]he Civil Service Commission's primary responsibility over all personnel matters in the Government . . . create[s] a built-in conflict of interest for examining the Government's equal employment opportunity program for structural defects which may result in a lack of true equal employment opportunity." Senate Report 15.
Prior administrative findings made with respect to an employment discrimination claim may, of course, be admitted as evidence at a federal-sector trial de novo. See Fed. Rule Evid. 803 (8) (C). Cf. Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 60 n. 21. Moreover, it can be expected that, in the light of the prior administrative proceedings, many potential issues can be eliminated by stipulation or in the course of pre trial proceedings in the District Court.