MR. JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The New York City Transit Authority refuses to employ persons who use methadone. The District Court found that this policy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In a subsequent opinion, the court also held that the policy violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Court of Appeals affirmed without reaching the statutory question. The departure by those courts from the procedure normally followed in addressing statutory and constitutional
The Transit Authority (TA) operates the subway system and certain bus lines in New York City. It employs about 47,000 persons, of whom many—perhaps most—are employed in positions that involve danger to themselves or to the public. For example, some 12,300 are subway motormen, towermen, conductors, or bus operators. The District Court found that these jobs are attended by unusual hazards and must be performed by "persons of maximum alertness and competence." 399 F.Supp. 1032, 1052 (SDNY 1975). Certain other jobs, such as operating cranes and handling high-voltage equipment, are also considered "critical" or "safety sensitive," while still others, though classified as "noncritical," have a potentially important impact on the overall operation of the transportation system.
TA enforces a general policy against employing persons
Methadone is regarded as a narcotic within the meaning of Rule 11 (b). No written permission has ever been given by TA's medical director for the employment of a person using methadone.
About 40,000 persons receive methadone maintenance treatment in New York City, of whom about 26,000 participate in the five major public or semipublic programs,
Methadone maintenance treatment in New York is largely governed by regulations promulgated by the New York State Drug Abuse Control Commission. Under the regulations, the newly accepted addict must first be detoxified, normally in a hospital. A controlled daily dosage of methadone is then prescribed. The regulations require that six doses a week be administered at a clinic, while the seventh day's dose may be taken at home. If progress is satisfactory for three months, additional doses may be taken away from the clinic, although
The evidence indicates that methadone is an effective cure for the physical aspects of heroin addiction. But the District Court also found "that many persons attempting to overcome heroin addiction have psychological or life-style problems which reach beyond what can be cured by the physical taking of doses of methadone." 399 F. Supp., at 1039. The crucial indicator of successful methadone maintenance is the patient's abstinence from the illegal or excessive use of drugs and alcohol. The District Court found that the risk of reversion to drug or alcohol abuse declines dramatically after the first few months of treatment. Indeed, "the strong majority" of patients who have been on methadone maintenance for at least a year are free from illicit drug use.
This litigation was brought by the four respondents as a class action on behalf of all persons who have been, or would in the future be, subject to discharge or rejection as employees of TA by reason of participation in a methadone maintenance program. Two of the respondents are former employees of TA who were dismissed while they were receiving methadone treatment.
The trial record contains extensive evidence concerning the success of methadone maintenance programs, the employability of persons taking methadone, and the ability of prospective employers to detect drug abuse or other undesirable characteristics of methadone users. In general, the District Court concluded that there are substantial numbers of methadone users who are just as employable as other members of the general population and that normal personnel-screening procedures—at least if augmented by some method of obtaining information from the staffs of methadone programs—would enable TA to identify the unqualified applicants on an individual basis. 399 F. Supp., at 1048-1051. On the other hand, the District Court recognized that at least one-third of the persons receiving methadone treatment—and probably a good many more—would unquestionably be classified as unemployable.
The District Court enjoined TA from denying employment to any person solely because of participation in a methadone maintenance program. Recognizing, however, the special responsibility for public safety borne by certain TA employees and the correlation between longevity in a methadone maintenance program and performance capability, the injunction authorized TA to exclude methadone users from specific categories of safety-sensitive positions and also to condition eligibility on satisfactory performance in a methadone program for at least a year. In other words, the court held that TA could lawfully adopt general rules excluding all methadone users from some jobs and a large number of methadone users from all jobs.
Almost a year later the District Court filed a supplemental opinion allowing respondents to recover attorney's fees under 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-5 (k). This determination was premised on the court's additional holding that TA's drug policy violated Title VII. Having already concluded that the blanket
The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's constitutional holding. 558 F.2d 97. While it declined to reach the statutory issue, it also affirmed the award of attorney's fees under the aegis of the recently enacted Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976, 42 U. S. C. § 1988, which provides adequate support for an award of legal fees to a party prevailing on a constitutional claim.
After we granted certiorari, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 87 Stat. 357, 29 U. S. C. § 701 et seq., to prohibit discrimination against a class of "handicapped individuals" that arguably includes certain former drug abusers and certain current users of methadone. Pub. L. 95-602, 92 Stat. 2984. Respondents argue that the amendment now
Respondents contend that the recent amendment to § 7 (6) of the Rehabilitation Act proscribes TA's enforcement of a general rule denying employment to methadone users.
Although respondents have consistently relied on both statutory and constitutional claims, the lower courts focused primarily on the latter. Thus, when the District Court decided the Title VII issue, it did so only as an afterthought in order to support an award of attorney's fees; the Court of Appeals did not even reach the Title VII issue. We do not condone this departure from settled federal practice. "If there is one doctrine more deeply rooted than any other in the process of constitutional adjudication, it is that we ought not to pass on questions of constitutionality . . . unless such adjudication is unavoidable." Spector Motor Service, Inc. v. McLaughlin, 323 U.S. 101, 105. Before deciding the constitutional question, it was incumbent on those courts to consider whether the statutory grounds might be dispositive.
The District Court's findings do not support its conclusion
A prima facie violation of the Act may be established by statistical evidence showing that an employment practice has the effect of denying the members of one race equal access to employment opportunities. Even assuming that respondents have crossed this threshold, when the entire record is examined it is clear that the two statistics on which they and the District Court relied do not prove a violation of Title VII.
First, the District Court noted that 81% of the employees referred to TA's medical director for suspected violation of its narcotics rule were either black or Hispanic. But respondents
Second, the District Court noted that about 63% of the persons in New York City receiving methadone maintenance in public programs—i. e., 63% of the 65% of all New York City methadone users who are in such programs
The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that no State shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The Clause announces a fundamental principle: the State must govern impartially. General rules that apply evenhandedly to all persons within the jurisdiction unquestionably comply with this principle. Only when a governmental unit adopts a rule that has a special impact on less than all the persons subject
In this case, TA's Rule 11 (b) places a meaningful restriction on all of its employees and job applicants; in that sense the rule is one of general applicability and satisfies the equal protection principle without further inquiry. The District Court, however, interpreted the rule as applicable to the limited class of persons who regularly use narcotic drugs, including methadone. As so interpreted, we are necessarily confronted with the question whether the rule reflects an impermissible bias against a special class.
Respondents have never questioned the validity of a special rule for all users of narcotics. Rather, they originally contended that persons receiving methadone should not be covered by that rule; in other words, they should not be included within a class that is otherwise unobjectionable. Their constitutional claim was that methadone users are entitled to be treated like most other employees and applicants rather than like other users of narcotics. But the District Court's findings unequivocally establish that there are relevant differences between persons using methadone regularly and persons who use no narcotics of any kind.
The constitutional defect in TA's employment policies, according to the District Court, is not that TA has special rules for methadone users, but rather that some members of the class should have been exempted from some requirements of the special rules. Left intact by its holding are rules requiring special supervision of methadone users to detect evidence of drug abuse, and excluding them from high-risk employment. Accepting those rules, the District Court nonetheless concluded that employment in nonsensitive jobs could not be denied to methadone users who had progressed satisfactorily with their treatment for one year, and who, when examined individually, satisfied TA's employment criteria. In short, having recognized that disparate treatment of methadone users simply because they are methadone users is permissible—and having excused TA from an across-the-board requirement of individual consideration of such persons—the District Court construed the Equal Protection Clause as requiring TA to adopt additional and more precise special rules for that special class.
At its simplest, the District Court's conclusion was that TA's rule is broader than necessary to exclude those methadone users who are not actually qualified to work for TA. We may assume not only that this conclusion is correct but also that it is probably unwise for a large employer like TA to rely on a general rule instead of individualized consideration of every job applicant. But these assumptions concern matters of personnel policy that do not implicate the principle safeguarded by the Equal Protection Clause.
MR. JUSTICE POWELL, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
The opinion of the Court addresses, and sustains, the policy of the Transit Authority under its Rule 11 (b) only insofar as it applies to employees and applicants for employment who "are receiving methadone treatment" (emphasis supplied). Ante, at 572-573, n. 3, and ante, this page. I concur in the opinion of the Court holding that there is no violation of the Equal Protection Clause or Title VII when the Authority's policy is applied to employees or applicants who are currently on methadone.
But in my view the question presented by the record and opinions of the courts below is not limited to the effect of the rule on present methadone users. Indeed, I had thought it conceded by all concerned that the Transit Authority's policy of exclusion extended beyond the literal language of Rule 11 (b) to persons currently free of methadone use but who had been on the drug within the previous five years. The District Court was unsure whether all past users were excluded but indicated that the policy of exclusion covered at least persons who had been free of methadone use for less than five years. 399 F.Supp. 1032, 1036 (SDNY 1975).
Petitioners' brief in this Court states, in effect, that the Authority will consider only applicants for employment who have been free of a drug problem for "at least five years":
There was a similar recognition of the Authority's policy in the petition for a writ of certiorari.
Despite this unanimity among the parties and courts below as to the question presented, the Court today simply chooses to limit its decision to the policy with respect to employees and applicants currently receiving methadone treatment. The explanation given is that "neither the findings of fact, nor the record evidence, squarely presents any issue with respect to former users that must be resolved in order to dispose of this litigation." Ante, at 572-573, n. 3. But the only support the Court cites for this statement is a lack of proof as to the policy's actual application. In light of the express admission
I conclude that the Court has decided only a portion of the case presented, and has failed to address what it recognizes as the more difficult issue. Ante, at 572-573, n. 3, 591-592, and n. 37. We owe it to the parties to resolve all issues properly presented, rather than to afford no guidance whatever as to whether former drug and methadone users may be excluded from employment by the Authority. I agree with the courts below that there is no rational basis for an absolute bar against the employment of persons who have completed successfully a methadone maintenance program and who otherwise
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, dissenting.
I would affirm for the reasons stated in Part I of MR. JUSTICE WHITE'S dissenting opinion.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, with whom MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL joins, dissenting.
Although the Court purports to apply settled principles to unique facts, the result reached does not square with either Title VII or the Equal Protection Clause. Accordingly, but respectfully, I dissent.
As an initial matter, the Court is unwise in failing to remand the statutory claims to the Court of Appeals. The District Court decided the Title VII issue only because it provided a basis for allowing attorney's fees. 414 F.Supp. 277, 278 (SDNY 1976). The Court of Appeals did not deal with Title VII, relying instead on the intervening passage of the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976,
Because the Court has decided the question, however, I must express my reservations about the merits of that decision. In a disparate-impact hiring case such as this, the plaintiff must show that the challenged practice excludes members of a protected group in numbers disproportionate to their incidence in the pool of potential employees.
In response to this, the Court says that the 63% statistic was not limited to those who worked for or sought to work for petitioners and to those who have been successfully maintained on methadone, and that it does not include those in private clinics. Ante, at 584-586. I suggest, in the first place, that these attacks on facially valid statistics should have been made in the District Court and the Court of Appeals, see Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321, 331 (1977); the first contention was not even made in this Court. It also seems to me that petitioners have little to complain about insofar as the makeup of the applicant pool is concerned since they refused on grounds of irrelevancy to allow discovery of the racial background of the applicants denied employment pursuant to the methadone rule.
In any event, I cannot agree with the Court's assertions that this evidence "reveals little if anything," "tells us nothing," and is "virtually irrelevant." Ante, at 585-586.
The Court complains that even if minority groups make up 63% of methadone-user applicants this statistic is an insufficient indicator of the composition of the group found by the District Court to have been wrongly excluded—that is, those who have been successfully maintained for a year or more. I cannot, however, presume with the Court that blacks or Hispanics will be less likely than whites to succeed on methadone. I would have thought the presumption, until rebutted, would be one of an equal chance of success, and there has been no rebuttal.
Finally, as to the racial composition of the patients at private clinics, I note first that the District Court found that "[b]etween 62% and 65% of methadone maintained persons in New York City are black and Hispanic . . . ." 414 F. Supp., at 279. The finding was for the total population, not just for public clinics. Even assuming that the Court wishes to overturn this finding of fact as clearly erroneous, I see no support for doing so. The evidence from the Methadone Information Center at Rockefeller University indicated that 61% of all patients in the metropolitan area were black or Puerto Rican (with 5.85% undefined). This was based on a
With all due respect, I would accept the statistics as making
Petitioners had the burden of showing job relatedness. They did not show that the rule results in a higher quality labor force, that such a labor force is necessary, or that the cost of making individual decisions about those on methadone was prohibitive. Indeed, as shown in the equal protection discussion infra, petitioners have not come close to showing that the present rule is "demonstrably a reasonable measure of job performance." Griggs, 401 U. S., at 436. No one could reasonably argue that petitioners have made the kind of showing demanded by Griggs or Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405 (1975). By petitioners' own stipulation, see n. 14, infra, this employment barrier was adopted "without meaningful study of [its] relationship to job-performance ability." Griggs, supra, at 431. As we stated in Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 247 (1976), Title VII "involves a more probing judicial review of, and less deference to, the seemingly reasonable acts of administrators and executives than is appropriate under the Constitution . . . ." Therefore, unlike the majority, ante, at 587 n. 31, I think it insufficient that the rule as a whole has some relationship to employment so long as a readily identifiable and severable part of it does not.
I also disagree with the Court's disposition of the equal protection claim in light of the facts established below. The District Court found that the evidence conclusively established that petitioners exclude from employment all persons who are successfully on methadone maintenance—that is, those who after one year are "free of the use of heroin, other illicit
Though petitioners' argument here is primarily an attack upon the factfinding below, the Court does not directly accept that thesis. Instead, it concludes that the District Court and the Court of Appeals both misapplied the Equal Protection
The question before us is the rationality of placing successfully maintained or recently cured persons in the same category as those just attempting to escape heroin addiction or who have failed to escape it, rather than in with the general population.
Petitioners had every opportunity, but presented nothing to negative the employability of successfully maintained methadone users as distinguished from those who were unsuccessful. Instead, petitioners, like the Court, dwell on the methadone failures—those who quit the programs or who remain but turn to illicit drug use. The Court, for instance, makes much of the drug use of many of those in methadone programs, including those who have been in such programs for more than one year. Ante, at 576, and n. 10. But this has little force
The District Court and the Court of Appeals were therefore fully justified in finding that petitioners could not reasonably have concluded that the protected group is less employable than the general population and that excluding it "has no rational relation to the demands of the jobs to be performed."
Justification of the blanket exclusion is not furthered by the statement that "any special rule short of total exclusion. . . is likely to be less precise" than the current rule. Ante, at 590. If the rule were narrowed as the District Court ordered, it would operate more precisely in at least one respect, for many employable persons would no longer be excluded. Nor does the current rule provide a "bright line," for there is nothing magic about the point five years after treatment has ended. There is a risk of "regression" among those who have never used methadone, and the Court cannot overcome the District Court's finding that a readily ascertainable point exists at which the risk has so decreased that the maintained or recently cured person is generally as employable as anyone else.
Of course, the District Court's order permitting total exclusion of all methadone users maintained for less than one year, whether successfully or not, would still exclude some employables and would to this extent be overinclusive. "Overinclusiveness" as to the primary objective of employability is accepted for less successful methadone users because it fulfills a secondary purpose and thus is not "overinclusive" at all. See Vance v. Bradley, ante, at 109. Although many of those who have not been successfully maintained for a year are employable, as a class they, unlike the protected group, are not as employable as the general population. Thus, even assuming the bad risks could be identified, serving the end of employability would require unusual efforts to determine those more likely to revert. But that legitimate
Robert B. Stites filed a brief for the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors as amicus curiae urging affirmance.
Stuart P. Herman filed a brief for the Western Law Center for the Handicapped as amicus curiae.
"Considerations governing review on certiorari
"1. A review on writ of certiorari is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion, and will be granted only where there are special and important reasons therefor. The following, while neither controlling nor fully measuring the court's discretion, indicate the character of reasons which will be considered:
"(b) Where a court of appeals . . . has decided a federal question in a way in conflict with applicable decisions of this court; or has so far departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings, or so far sanctioned such a departure by a lower court, as to call for an exercise of this court's power of supervision."
Although it did not settle the question of what policy TA enforces in this respect, the District Court included former users in the plaintiff class. It then afforded them relief from any blanket exclusionary policy that TA might enforce, although, again, the supporting factual findings were admittedly "not [based on] a great deal" of evidence. Id., at 1051.
TA contends that the meager evidence received at trial on the "former users" issue was insufficient to support either the class or relief determinations made with respect to those persons. We go further. As far as we are aware there was no evidence offered at trial, and certainly none relied upon by the District Court, that TA actually refused employment to any former user entitled to relief under the injunction ordered by that court. (As we point out in n. 12, infra, the one named plaintiff, Frasier, who was a former user when the complaint was filed was clearly a current user at the time he first applied for a job with TA and may well have been properly perceived as a current user when he next applied, notwithstanding his assertion of successful completion during the intervening three weeks. In any case, he had not completed a full year of methadone maintenance and could therefore be excluded under the District Court's injunction.)
It follows that neither the findings of fact, nor the record evidence, squarely presents any issue with respect to former users that must be resolved in order to dispose of this litigation. And, of course, it is those findings and that evidence, rather than statements of the parties on appeal and even offhand and clearly erroneous characterizations of the findings and evidence by the Court of Appeals, see opinion of MR. JUSTICE POWELL, post, at 594-595, that determine the issues properly before this Court. A policy excluding all former users would be harder to justify than a policy applicable only to persons currently receiving treatment. A court should not reach out to express an opinion on the constitutionality of such a policy unless necessary to adjudicate a concrete dispute between adverse litigants. We shall therefore confine our consideration to the legality of TA's enforcement of its Rule 11 (b) against current users of methadone.
"(1) The Beth Israel program . . . with 35 clinics treating 7100 patients;
"(2) A program administered by the City of New York with 39 clinics treating 12,400 patients (hereafter referred to as `the City program');
"(3) A program administered by the Bronx State Hospital and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, with 7 clinics treating about 2400 patients;
"(4) A program operated by the Addiction Research and Treatment Center (ARTC) with 6 clinics treating about 1200 patients; and
"(5) A program operated by the New York State Drug Abuse Control Commission (DACC), with 8 clinics treating about 1100 patients.
"The total number of patients treated in public or semi-public programs is about 26,000. It appears that these programs are financed almost entirely by federal, state and city funds." Id., at 1040.
"Dr. Trigg of Beth Israel testified that about 5,000 out of the 6,500-7,000 patients in his clinics have been on methadone maintenance for a year or more. He further testified that 75% of this 5,000 are free from illicit drug use." Id., at 1046.
Similarly, although the figures may be somewhat higher for the city and Bronx State Hospital programs, only 70% of the ARTC patients with a year's tenure or more were found to be free from illicit drug or alcohol use. It is reasonable to infer from this evidence that anywhere from 20% to 30% of those who have been on maintenance for over a year have drug or alcohol problems.
"The witnesses from the Beth Israel program testified that about one-third of the patients in that program, after a short period of adjustment, need very little more than the doses of methadone. The persons in this category are situated fairly satisfactorily with respect to matters such as family ties, education and jobs. Another one-third of the patients at Beth Israel need a moderate amount of rehabilitation service, including vocational assistance, for a period of several months or about a year. A person in this category may, for instance, have finished high school, but may have a long heroin history and no employment record. A final one-third of the patients at Beth Israel need intensive supportive services, are performing in the program marginally, and either will be discharged or will be on the brink of discharge." 399 F. Supp., at 1048.
"No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States, as defined in section 706 (6) of this title, shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
It is stipulated that the TA receives federal financial assistance.
In relevant part, § 7 (6) of the Act, 29 U. S. C. § 706 (6), as amended and redesignated, 92 Stat. 2984, 29 U. S. C. § 706 (7) (B) (1976 ed., Supp. III), provides:
"[T]he term `handicapped individual' . . . means any person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities, (ii) has a record of such an impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment. For purposes of sections 503 and 504 as such sections relate to employment, such term does not include any individual who is an alcoholic or drug abuser whose current use of alcohol or drugs prevents such individual from performing the duties of the job in question or whose employment, by reason of such current alcohol or drug abuse, would constitute a direct threat to property or the safety of others."
"The policy, however, has not been limited to jurisdictional determinations. For, in addition, `the Court [has] developed, for its own governance in the cases confessedly within its jurisdiction, a series of rules under which it has avoided passing upon a large part of all the constitutional questions pressed upon it for decision.' Thus, as those rules were listed in support of the statement quoted, constitutional issues affecting legislation will not be determined in friendly, nonadversary proceedings; in advance of the necessity of deciding them; in broader terms than are required by the precise facts to which the ruling is to be applied; if the record presents some other ground upon which the case may be disposed of; at the instance of one who fails to show that he is injured by the statute's operation, or who has availed himself of its benefits; or if a construction of the statute is fairly possible by which the question may be avoided." Rescue Army v. Municipal Court, 331 U.S. 549, 568-569 (footnotes omitted), quoting Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288, 346 (Brandeis, J., concurring).
Whatever the theoretical validity of respondents' explanations for the actions of the District Court and the Court of Appeals, the fact remains that we are forced to speculate about what motivated them because they never explained their haste to address a naked constitutional issue despite the presence in the case of alternative statutory theories. It also bears noting that in its second opinion the District Court did decide that TA's policy violated a federal statute, and its decision, without addressing any constitutional issue, provided a statutory basis for virtually all of the relief that it ultimately awarded. Had it confronted the issue, therefore, it presumably would have concluded that it could have decided the case without addressing the constitutional issue on which it initially decided the case.
Moreover, our treatment of the Title VII claim also disposes of the § 1981 claim without need of a remand. Although the exact applicability of that provision has not been decided by this Court, it seems clear that it affords no greater substantive protection than Title VII.
From the time they filed their complaint until their submissions to this Court, respondents have relied on statistics to demonstrate the discriminatory effect of TA's methadone policy. They have never attempted to present a discriminatory purpose case and would be hard pressed to do so in the face of the District Court's explicit finding that no animus motivated TA in establishing its policy, 414 F.Supp. 277, 279 (SDNY 1976), and in the face of TA's demonstration in forms filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the percentage of blacks and Hispanics in its work force is well over twice that of the percentage in the work force in the New York metropolitan area.
Because of our conclusion on the merits of respondents' Title VII claim, we need not address the constitutional challenge made by TA to Title VII insofar as it authorizes relief against a municipal agency under the circumstances of this case. See n. 23, supra.
"TA employees showing physical manifestations of drug abuse other than the definite presence of morphine or methadone or other illicit drug in the urine, are referred for consultation to [the medical director] . . . ." App. 86A (emphasis added).
In view of this stipulation and the District Court's finding that few if any physical manifestations of drug abuse characterize methadone-maintained persons, 399 F. Supp., at 1042-1045, it seems likely that such persons would not be included in the statistical pool referred to by the District Court. It should also be noted that when the dissent refers to the rejection of almost 5% of all applicants "due to the rule," post, at 600, the reference is to all narcotics users rather than to methadone users. The record does not tell us how many methadone users were rejected.
In addition, a substantial percentage of persons taking methadone will not successfully complete the treatment program. The findings do not indicate with any precision the number who drop out, or the number who can fairly be classified as unemployable, but the evidence indicates that it may well be a majority of those taking methadone at any given time. See nn. 14 and 28, supra.
The District Court also recognized that verifying the above demonstrations by the methadone user would require special efforts to obtain reliable information from, and about, each of the many different methadone maintenance clinics—a task that it recognized could be problematic in some cases. Id., at 1050; see n. 7, supra. Furthermore, once it hired a methadone user, TA would have a continuing duty to monitor his progress in the maintenance program and would have to take special precautions against his promotion to any of the safety-sensitive positions from which the District Court held he may be excluded.
The dissent is therefore repeatedly mistaken in attributing to the District Court a finding that TA's "normal screening process without additional effort" would suffice in the absence of the "no drugs" rule. Post, at 608. See post, at 608 n. 14. Aggravating this erroneous factual assumption is a mistaken legal proposition advanced by the dissent—that TA can be faulted for failing to prove the unemployability of "successfully maintained methadone users. Post, at 605. Aside from the misallocation of the burden of proof that underlies this argument, it is important to note, see post, at 606, that TA did prove that 20% to 30% of the class afforded relief by the District Court are not "successfully maintained," and hence are assuredly not employable. Even assuming therefore that the percentage of employable persons in the remaining 70% is the same as that in the class of TA applicants who do not use methadone, it is respondents who must be faulted for failing to prove that the offending 30% could be excluded as cheaply and effectively in the absence of the rule.
Respondents argue that the validity of these considerations is belied by TA's treatment of alcoholics. Although TA refuses to hire new employees with drinking problems, it continues in its employ a large number of persons who have either been found drinking on the job or have been deemed unfit for duty because of prior drinking. These situations give rise to discipline but are handled on an individual basis. But the fact that TA has the resources to expend on one class of problem employees does not by itself establish a constitutional duty on its part to come up with resources to spend on all classes of problem employees.
The brief for respondents similarly described the Transit Authority's policy:
"The Transit Authority's blanket denial of employment to fully rehabilitated heroin addicts who are being or ever have been treated in methadone maintenance programs violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment." Brief for Respondents 59.
"[I]t is unquestioned that there are many methadone maintenance patients who successfully withdraw from methadone and stay clear of drug abuse thereafter. Plaintiff Beazer is such a person, having ceased using methadone almost two years ago.
"There is no rational reason for maintaining an absolute bar against the employment of these persons regardless of their individual merits." Id., at 1051.
It is clear that Beazer both was a proper representative of the class of former users and was interested in Transit Authority employment, inasmuch as reinstatement was part of the relief he sought. In light of the Transit Authority's unequivocal policy of not employing persons in Beazer's position, it was unnecessary for him to engage in the futile ritual of reapplying for employment after terminating his methadone use in order to have standing to attack the policy.
"It is clear that a relatively recent methadone user would be subject to the blanket exclusionary policy. However, the TA has indicated that there might be some flexibility with respect to a person who had once used methadone, but had been free of such use for a period of five years or more." 399 F. Supp., at 1036.
The Court finds no "concrete dispute between adverse litigants" over the former-users policy because no former user is entitled to relief under the District Court's injunction. Ante, at 573 n. 3. But respondent Frasier is a former user, see ante, at 576-577, n. 12, and the District Court expressly granted him relief, including backpay from the time he was rejected as a recent former methadone user. App. to Pet. for Cert. 77a-78a. The Court says the District Court erred in finding as facts that Frasier was using no narcotics in April 1973 and that petitioners refused to hire him solely because of his prior, apparently successful methadone treatment. As I read the facts as recited by the Court, the District Court was clearly correct, but in any event petitioners have not preserved this argument in the Court of Appeals or here. See Defendants' Proposed Findings of Fact 6-7 (filed Oct. 18, 1974) (Frasier "purportedly" graduated successfully from the methadone program on March 19, 1973, and, though otherwise eligible, was rejected due to "his drug history" on April 2, 1973). See also ante, at 596 n. 4 (POWELL, J., dissenting in relevant part).
The Court apparently reads the District Court's injunction as protecting only those persons who had been in methadone programs for a year or longer before they were cured. It is incredible that the District Court would have punished those persons able to triumph over heroin addiction in less than a year. And the context of the District Court's order, combined with the grant of relief to respondent Frasier, makes it clear that the court intended to protect, and had good reason to do so, all former methadone users as well as those current users who have been successfully maintained for more than a year.
The fact of methadone use must be determined somehow, so all applications must at least be read, and petitioners require all applicants under 35, and many existing employees, to submit to urinalysis. Reading the applications may disclose not only the fact of methadone use but also whether the person has certain educational or other qualifications and whether he or she has had a stable employment experience or any recent job-related difficulties.
The Court says that petitioners would be burdened by having to verify that a methadone applicant was successful in his program. But the program itself verifies that fact, and the District Court found that all petitioners would have to do is get in touch with the program, and that "this is essentially no different from obtaining relevant references for other types of applicants." 399 F. Supp., at 1050 n. 3. A number of expert witnesses testified that the methadone clinics have far more information about their patients than personnel officers could ordinarily hope to acquire. The Court fears that some of the programs might not be reliable, but the District Court found that most are and ruled that petitioners do not have to hire any applicant "where there is reason to doubt the reliability of" the information furnished by the applicant's clinic. Id., at 1058; accord, id., at 1050 n. 3. Consequently, I see no error at all, much less clear error, in the District Court's finding of fact that petitioners "can perform this screening for methadone maintenance patients in basically the same way as in the case of other prospective employees." Id., at 1048; accord, id., at 1037 and 1050 n. 3.
As to supervision of those who are hired, the fact that they present no greater risk than any other employee eliminates the need for any special supervision, except perhaps a notation on their personnel files that they need not be assigned to safety-sensitive positions. The District Court found as a fact that petitioners' methods of monitoring all their employees "can be used for persons on methadone maintenance just as they are used for other persons . . . ." Id., at 1037.
Some weight should also be given to the history of the rule. See Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 267-268 (1977). Petitioners admit that it was not the result of a reasoned policy decision and stipulated that they had never studied the ability of those on methadone maintenance to perform petitioners' jobs. Petitioners are not directly accountable to the public, are not the type of official body that normally makes legislative judgments of fact such as those relied upon by the majority today, and are by nature more concerned with business efficiency than with other public policies for which they have no direct responsibility. Cf. Hampton v. Mow Sun Wong, 426 U.S. 88, 103, (1976). But see ante, at 592. Both the State and City of New York, which do exhibit those democratic characteristics, hire persons in methadone programs for similar jobs.
These factors together strongly point to a conclusion of invidious discrimination. The Court, however, refuses to view this rule as one "circumscrib[ing] a class of persons characterized by some unpopular trait or affiliation," ante, at 593, because it is admittedly justified as applied to many current and former heroin addicts. Because the challenged classification unfairly burdens only a portion of all heroin addicts, the Court reasons that it cannot possibly have been spurred by animus by the "ruling majority." All that shows, however, is that the characteristic in question is a legitimate basis of distinction in some circumstances; heroin addiction is a serious affliction that will often affect employability. But sometimes antipathy extends beyond the facts that may have given rise to it, and when that happens the "stereotyped reaction may have no rational relationship— other than pure prejudicial discrimination—to the stated purpose for which the classification is being made." Mathews v. Lucas, 427 U.S. 495, 520-521 (1976) (STEVENS, J., dissenting; footnote omitted). That is the case here.
The District Court did find that a possible but rare effect of methadone is minor impairment of abilities "required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks, such as driving a car or operating machinery," 399 F. Supp., at 1045, and the court exempted from the relief ordered such positions as subway motorman, which require "unique sensitivity." Id., at 1052. But this does not make rational the blanket exclusion from all jobs, regardless of the qualifications required.