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Patterson v. McLean Credit Union

Significance, Court Reconsiders Whether Section 1981 Prohibits Any Private Discrimination, Patterson Overturned, Civil Rights Act Of 1991


Brenda Patterson


McLean Credit Union

Petitioner's Claim

That the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits racial discrimination in the "making and enforcing" of contracts, covers problems arising from conditions of employment, such as harassment and failure to promote.

Chief Lawyers for Petitioner

Julius LeVonne Chambers, Penda D. Hair

Chief Lawyers for Respondent

Roger S. Kaplan, H. Lee Davis, Jr.

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Anthony M. Kennedy (writing for the Court), Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting



Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

15 June 1989


That the Civil Right Act of 1866 does not prohibit racial discrimination in conditions of employment beyond the formation of the employment contract.

Related Cases

  • Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
  • Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409 (1968).
  • Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983).


Naidoff, Caren E.I. "Understanding the Civil Rights Act of 1991," Management Review, April 1992.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988