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Wards Cove Packing v. Atonio

Pro-business Climate

Legal analysts asserted that the decision was a flexing of conservative muscle that negated an array of significant civil-rights decisions that favored plaintiffs in the area of discrimination litigation over the last two decades. In effect, it seemed to repudiate Griggs and place a large and deliberate obstacle to employee suits against employers. To many, it appeared to invalidate the necessity of affirmative-action quotas in the workplace, whether court-imposed or voluntary. On the other hand, White's opinion pointed out that there had been "misunderstanding" in the Court's previous interpretations of the Civil Rights Act in past decisions. The Wards Cove decision was also consistent with the Republican tone of American politics during the 1980s, through which a thriving, unregulated business climate was given preference.

The Wards Cove case incensed Democratic lawmakers. With the 1991 Civil Rights Act, signed by President George Bush, the Griggs precedent, forcing much of the burden of proof onto the employer, became law. However, it did uphold one part of the Wards Cove decision in requiring that the plaintiff employee had to identify a specific company practice in their challenge.

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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?