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Wards Cove Packing v. Atonio


The decision was seen as pro-business--favoring a deregulated corporate climate by making it harder for employees to bring suit against their employers--and also marked a new era for the Court, now with a block of conservative justices on the bench.

In the late 1960s, Frank Atonio filed suit, along with several other co-workers at an Alaskan fish cannery, charging that the practices of their employer, Wards Cove Packing Company, hindered their ability to obtain promotions and better-paying jobs within the company. Atonio, a Samoan, and the others--also nonwhites--held the more arduous unskilled canning factory jobs, while at the company's offices most of the skilled positions were filled by whites. A majority of the cannery workers were Native Alaskan or Filipino, and they ate and bunked separately from the office workers; jobs were even described with derogatory racial epithets. Almost all of the office positions offered better pay, and more pleasant working conditions. An aptitude test for all job candidates, a common practice, was one hiring practice that Wards Cove used in personnel decisions, and Atonio and the others charged that these kinds of tests served to segregate the workforce along color lines.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Wards Cove Packing v. Atonio - Significance, Title Vii, New Era, New Majority, Pro-business Climate, What Is White Collar Crime?