MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.
These cases, like Teamsters v. United States, ante, p. 324, involve alleged employment discrimination on the part of an employer and unions in the trucking industry. The employer, East Texas Motor Freight System, Inc., is a common carrier that employs city and over-the-road, or "line," truckdrivers. The company has a "no-transfer" policy, prohibiting drivers from transferring between terminals or from city-driver to line-driver jobs.
The respondents brought this suit against the company and the unions in a Federal District Court, challenging the above practices. Although their complaint denominated the cause as a class action, they did not move for class certification in the trial court. After a two-day hearing the court dismissed the class allegations of the complaint and decided against the individual respondents on the merits. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed, after itself certifying what it considered an appropriate class and holding that the no-transfer rule and the seniority system violated the statutory rights of that class under 42 U. S. C. § 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. V). 505 F.2d 40. This Court granted certiorari to review the judgment of the Court of Appeals. 425 U.S. 990.
The respondents are three Mexican-Americans who initiated this litigation as the named plaintiffs, Jesse Rodriguez, Sadrach Perez, and Modesto Herrera. They were employed as city drivers at the company's San Antonio terminal, and were members of Teamsters Local Union 657 and of the Southern Conference of Teamsters. There was no line-driver operation at the San Antonio terminal, and the respondents stipulated that they had not been discriminated against when they were first hired. In August 1970, some years after they were hired, each of them applied in writing for a line-driver job. In accord with its no-transfer policy, the company declined to consider these applications on their individual merits. The respondents then filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and after receiving
According to the complaint, the suit was brought on behalf of the named plaintiffs and all Negroes and Mexican-Americans who had been denied equal employment opportunities with the company because of their race or national origin. The complaint specifically alleged that the appropriate class should consist of all "East Texas Motor Freight's Mexican-American and Black in-city drivers included in the collective bargaining agreement entered into between East Texas Motor Freight and the Southern Conference of Teamsters covering the State of Texas. Additionally that such class should properly be composed of all Mexican-American and Black applicants for line driver positions with East Texas Motor Freight . . . from July 2, 1965 [the effective date of Title VII] to present."
Despite the class allegations in their complaint, the plaintiffs did not move prior to trial to have the action certified as a class action pursuant to Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 23, and no such certification was made by the District Judge. Indeed, the plaintiffs had stipulated before trial that "`the only issue presently before the Court pertaining to the company is whether the failure of the Defendant East Texas Motor
Following trial, the District Court dismissed the class-action allegations. It stressed the plaintiffs' failure to move for a prompt determination of the propriety of class certification, their failure to offer evidence on that question, their concentration at the trial on their individual claims, their stipulation that the only issue to be determined concerned the company's failure to act on their applications, and the fact that, contrary to the relief the plaintiffs sought, see n. 3, supra, a large majority of the membership of Local 657 had recently rejected a proposal calling for the merger of city-driver and line-driver seniority lists with free transfer between jobs.
The District Court also held against the named plaintiffs on their individual claims. It ruled that the no-transfer policy and the seniority system were proper business practices, neutrally applied, and that the company had not discriminated against the plaintiffs or retaliated against them for filing charges with the EEOC. The court further found: "None of the plaintiff employees could satisfy all of the qualifications for a road driver position according to the company manual due to age or weight or driving record. . . . The driving, work, and/or physical records of the plaintiffs are of such nature that only casual consideration need be given to determine that the plaintiffs cannot qualify to become road drivers." App. 64.
After certifying the class, the Court of Appeals went on to find classwide liability against the company and the union on the basis of the proof adduced at the trial of the individual claims. Contrary to the understanding of the judge who had tried the case, the appellate court determined that the trial had proceeded "as in a class action," with the acquiescence of
Accordingly, the Court of Appeals concluded, upon the trial record, that the company had discriminated against Negroes and Mexican-Americans in hiring line drivers, that the company's no-transfer rule and seniority system perpetuated the past discrimination and were not justified by business necessity, that the company's requirement of three years of immediately prior line-haul experience was an illegal employment qualification, and that the unions had violated Title VII and 42 U. S. C. § 1981 by "their role in establishing separate seniority rosters that failed to make allowance for minority city drivers who had been discriminatorily relegated to city driver jobs." 505 F. 2d, at 61. The Court of Appeals did not disturb the trial court's finding that none of the named plaintiffs was qualified to be a line driver; rather, it held only that finding had been "premature," because each plaintiff, as a member of the class, would be entitled to have his application considered on the merits when future line-driver vacancies arose.
It is our conclusion that on the record before it the Court of Appeals plainly erred in declaring a class action and in imposing upon the petitioners classwide liability. In arriving at this conclusion we do not reach the question whether a court of appeals should ever certify a class in the first instance. For it is inescapably clear that the Court of Appeals in any event erred in certifying a class in this case, for the simple reason that it was evident by the time the case reached that court that the named plaintiffs were not proper class representatives under Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 23 (a).
In short, the trial court proceedings made clear that Rodriguez, Perez, and Herrera were not members of the class of discriminatees they purported to represent. As this Court has repeatedly held, a class representative must be part of the class and "possess the same interest and suffer the same injury" as the class members. Schlesinger v. Reservists Committee to Stop the War, 418 U.S. 208, 216. See, e. g., Kremens v. Bartley, ante, at 131 n. 12; Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 403; Rosario v. Rockefeller, 410 U.S. 752, 759 n. 9; Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 49; Bailey v. Patterson, 369 U.S. 31, 32-33. The District Court found upon abundant evidence that these plaintiffs lacked the qualifications to be hired as line drivers.
Apart from the named plaintiffs' evident lack of class membership, the record before the Court of Appeals disclosed at least two other strong indications that they would not
We are not unaware that suits alleging racial or ethnic discrimination are often by their very nature class suits, involving classwide wrongs. Common questions of law or fact are typically present. But careful attention to the requirements of Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 23 remains nonetheless indispensable. The mere fact that a complaint alleges racial or ethnic discrimination does not in itself ensure that the party who has brought the lawsuit will be an adequate representative
For the reasons we have discussed, the District Court did not err in denying individual relief or in dismissing the class allegations of the respondents' complaint.
It is so ordered.
"(a) Prerequisites to a Class Action. One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all only if (1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class, (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class, and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class."
In light of this evidence, the District Court's finding that none of the respondents was qualified to be a line driver was not clearly erroneous. Nor was this finding in any way "premature." The trial had concerned the company's failure to consider the respondents' individual line-driver applications, and the plaintiffs had requested backpay and transfer with carryover seniority in addition to other relief. Even assuming, arguendo, that the company's failure even to consider the applications was discriminatory, the company was entitled to prove at trial that the respondents had not been injured because they were not qualified and would not have been hired in any event. See, e. g., Teamsters v. United States, ante, at 369 n. 53. Cf. Mt. Healthy City Board of Education v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 285-287.