Susan A. Cahoon

Publication Date


Document Type

Survey Article


During 1980, the Fifth Circuit again had a full docket of employment discrimination cases. For the most part, the cases tended to turn on the particular facts at issue, and there were few pronouncements by the court of broader significance. An en banc court did decide an important question about limiting communications in class actions, and a panel of the court considered for the first time, whether there is an implied private cause of action to sue for discrimination against the handicapped under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Fifth Circuit also continued to follow a unique approach to the burden of proof in actions brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that has recently been addressed and reversed by the Supreme Court. The court of appeals did clarify some difficult res judicata issues with respect to the overlapping litigation that may exist because of the power of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission) to make an individual's charge of discrimination the basis for a suit by the Commission itself. The court continued its tendency to affirm a denial of class certification if, by the time of the appeal, there has been an adverse ruling on the merits of the representative plaintiff's personal claims that may be affirmed on appeal. Although more age discrimination cases reached the court in 1980, they were for the most part resolved by application of the clearly erroneous standard of appellate review.