ESPINOZA V. FARAH MFG. CO., INC., 414 U. S. 86 (1973)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Espinoza v. Farah Mfg. Co., Inc., 414 U.S. 86 (1973)

Espinoza v. Farah Manufacturing Co., Inc.

No. 72-671

Argued October 10-11, 1973

Decided November 19, 1973

414 U.S. 86


Petitioners, Mr. and Mrs. Espinoza, brought suit after exhausting their administrative remedies with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that respondent's refusal to hire Mrs. Espinoza in its San Antonio division because of her Mexican citizenship violated § 703 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The District Court granted petitioners' motion for summary judgment, relying primarily on an EEOC guideline providing that a lawful alien resident may not be discriminated against on the basis of citizenship. The Court of Appeals reversed.

Held: An employer's refusal to hire a person because he is not a United States citizen does not constitute employment discrimination on the basis of "national origin" in violation of § 703. Pp. 414 U. S. 88-96.

(a) In light of the statute's legislative history and the longstanding practice of requiring federal employees to be United States citizens, it is clear that Congress did not intend the term "national origin" to embrace citizenship requirements. Pp. 414 U. S. 88-91.

(b) The EEOC's guideline, though perhaps significant in a wide range of other situations, does not apply here or support the premise that discrimination on the basis of citizenship is tantamount to discrimination on the basis of national origin, since there is no showing that respondent (96% of whose San Antonio division employees are Mexican-Americans) discriminated against persons of Mexican origin. Pp. 414 U. S. 92-95.

(c) Though the Act protects aliens against illegal discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, it does not proscribe discrimination on the basis of alienage. P. 414 U. S. 95.

462 F.2d 1331, affirmed.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which

Page 414 U. S. 87

BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 414 U. S. 96.

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