JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case presents the question whether an employer charged with discrimination in hiring can toll the continuing accrual of backpay liability under § 706(g) of Title VII, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-5(g), simply by unconditionally offering the claimant the job previously denied, or whether the employer also must offer seniority retroactive to the date of the alleged discrimination.
In June and July 1971, Judy Gaddis, Rebecca Starr, and Zettie Smith applied at a Ford Motor Co. (Ford) parts warehouse located in Charlotte, N. C., for jobs as "picker-packers," "picking" ordered parts from storage, and "packing" them for shipment. At the time, no woman had ever worked in that capacity at the Ford warehouse. All three women
In January 1973, GM recalled Gaddis and Starr to their former positions at its warehouse. The following July, while they were still working at GM, a single vacancy opened up at Ford. Ford offered the job to Gaddis, without seniority retroactive to her 1971 application. Ford's offer, however, did not require Gaddis to abandon or compromise her Title VII claim against Ford. Gaddis did not accept the job, in part because she did not want to be the only woman working at the warehouse, and in part because she did not want to lose the seniority she had earned at GM. Ford then made the same unconditional offer to Starr, who declined for the same reasons. Gaddis and Starr continued to work at the GM warehouse, but in 1974 the warehouse was closed and they were laid off. They then unsuccessfully sought new employment until September 1975, when they entered a Government training program for the unemployed.
Smith applied again for work at Ford in 1973, but was never hired. She worked elsewhere, though at lower wages
In contrast to Gaddis', Starr's, and Smith's difficulties, at least two of the three men hired by Ford in 1971 were still working at the warehouse at the time of the trial in 1977.
In July 1975, the EEOC sued Ford in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, alleging that Ford had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e et seq. (1976 ed. and Supp. IV), by refusing to hire women at the Charlotte warehouse. The Commission sought injunctive relief and backpay for the victims.
After trial, the District Court found that Ford had discriminated against the three women on the basis of their sex and awarded them backpay in an amount equal to "the difference between the amount they would have earned had they been hired in August 1971, and the amounts actually earned or reasonably earnable by them" between that date and the date of the court's order. App. to Pet. for Cert. A-170. The District Court rejected Ford's contention that Gaddis and Starr were not entitled to backpay accruing after the dates on which they declined Ford's offer of employment. Id., at A-170 to A-171.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court's finding of unlawful discrimination, as well as the court's award to Gaddis and Starr of backpay that had accrued after July 1973, when the women rejected Ford's unconditional job offer. 645 F.2d 183 (1981). The court suggested that, had Ford promised retroactive seniority with its job offer, the offer would have cut off
Ford then petitioned this Court for a writ of certiorari, contending, inter alia, that its unconditional job offer to Gaddis and Starr should have cut off the further accrual of backpay liability.
Section 706(g) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 261, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-5(g), governs the award of backpay in Title VII cases. In pertinent part, § 706(g) provides:
Under § 706(g), then, "backpay is not an automatic or mandatory remedy; . . . it is one which the courts `may' invoke" in the exercise of their sound "discretion [which] is equitable in nature." Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405, 415, 416 (1975). Nonetheless, while "the power to award backpay is a discretionary power," id., at 447 (BLACKMUN, J., concurring in judgment), a "court must exercise this power `in light of the large objectives of the Act,'" and, in doing so, must be guided by "meaningful standards" enforced by "thorough appellate review." Id., at 416 (opinion of the Court) (citations omitted). Moreover, as we emphasized in Albemarle Paper, in Title VII cases
In this case, Ford and the EEOC offer competing standards to govern backpay liability. Ford argues that if an employer unconditionally offers a claimant the job for which he previously applied, the claimant's rejection of that offer should toll the continuing accrual of backpay liability.
The "primary objective" of Title VII is to bring employment discrimination to an end, Albemarle Paper, 422 U. S., at 417, by "`achiev[ing] equality of employment opportunities and remov[ing] barriers that have operated in the past to favor an identifiable group . . . over other employees.'" Ibid. (quoting Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 429-430 (1971)). See also McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 800 (1973). "[T]he preferred means for achieving" this goal is through "[c]ooperation and voluntary compliance." Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 44 (1974).
To accomplish this objective, the legal rules fashioned to implement Title VII should be designed, consistent with other Title VII policies, to encourage Title VII defendants promptly to make curative, unconditional job offers to Title VII claimants, thereby bringing defendants into "voluntary compliance" and ending discrimination far more quickly than could litigation proceeding at its often ponderous pace. Delays in litigation unfortunately are now commonplace, forcing the victims of discrimination to suffer years of underemployment or unemployment before they can obtain a court order awarding them the jobs unlawfully denied them. In a better world, perhaps, lawsuits brought under Title VII would speed to judgment so quickly that the effects of legal rules on the behavior of the parties during the pendency of litigation would not be as important a consideration. We do not now live in such a world, however, as this case illustrates.
The rule tolling the further accrual of backpay liability if the defendant offers the claimant the job originally sought
The rule adopted by the court below, on the other hand, fails to provide the same incentive, because it makes hiring the Title VII claimant more costly than hiring one of the other applicants for the same job. To give the claimant retroactive seniority before an adjudication of liability, the employer must be willing to pay the additional costs of the fringe benefits that come with the seniority that newly hired workers usually do not receive. More important, the employer must also be prepared to cope with the deterioration in morale, labor unrest, and reduced productivity that may be engendered by inserting the claimant into the seniority ladder over the heads of the incumbents who have earned their places through their work on the job. In many cases, moreover, disruption of the existing seniority system will violate a collective-bargaining agreement, with all that such a violation entails for the employer's labor relations.
In sum, the Court of Appeals' rule provides no incentive to employers to hire Title VII claimants. The rule advocated
Title VII's primary goal, of course, is to end discrimination; the victims of job discrimination want jobs, not lawsuits.
If Gaddis and Starr had rejected an unconditional offer from Ford before they were recalled to their jobs at GM, tolling
An employer's unconditional offer of the job originally sought to an unemployed or underemployed claimant, moreover, need not be supplemented by an offer of retroactive seniority to be effective, lest a defendant's offer be irrationally disfavored relative to other employers' offers of substantially similar jobs. The claimant, after all, plainly would be required to minimize his damages by accepting another employer's
In short, the unemployed or underemployed claimant's statutory obligation to minimize damages requires him to accept an unconditional offer of the job originally sought, even without retroactive seniority. Acceptance of the offer preserves, rather than jeopardizes, the claimant's right to be made whole; in the case of an unemployed or underemployed claimant, Ford's suggested rule merely embodies the existing requirement of § 706(g) that the claimant minimize damages, without affecting his right to compensation.
Ford's proposed rule also is consistent with the policy of full compensation when the claimant has had the good fortune to find a more attractive job than the defendant's, because the availability of the better job terminates the ongoing ill effects of the defendant's refusal to hire the claimant. For example, if Gaddis and Starr considered their jobs at GM to be so far superior to the jobs originally offered by Ford that, even if Ford had hired them at the outset, they would have left Ford's employ to take the new work, continuing to hold Ford responsible for backpay after Gaddis and Starr lost their GM jobs would be to require, in effect, that Ford insure them against the risks of unemployment in a new and independent undertaking. Such a rule would not merely restore Gaddis and Starr to the "`position where they would have been were it not for the unlawful discrimination,'" Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U. S., at 421 (citation omitted); it would catapult them into a better position than they would have enjoyed in the absence of discrimination.
Likewise, even if Gaddis and Starr considered their GM jobs only somewhat better or even substantially equivalent to the positions they would have held at Ford had Ford hired
In both of these situations, the claimant has the power to accept the defendant's offer and abandon the superior or substantially equivalent replacement job. As in the case of an unemployed or underemployed claimant, under the rule advocated by Ford acceptance of the defendant's unconditional offer would preserve fully the ultimately victorious claimant's right to full redress for the effects of discrimination.
Thus, the rule advocated by Ford rests comfortably both on the statutory requirement that a Title VII claimant must minimize damages and on the fact that a claimant is no longer incurring additional injury if he has been able to find other suitable work that, all things considered, is at least as attractive as the defendant's. For this reason, in almost all circumstances the rule is fully consistent with Title VII's object of making injured claimants whole.
The sole question that can be raised regarding whether the rule adequately compensates claimants arises in that narrow category of cases in which the claimant believes his replacement job to be superior to the defendant's job without seniority, but inferior to the defendant's job with the benefits of seniority. In the present case, for example, it is possible that Gaddis and Starr considered their GM jobs more attractive than the jobs offered by Ford, but less satisfactory than the positions they would have held at Ford if Ford had hired them initially. If so, they were confronted with two options. They could have accepted Ford's unconditional offer, preserving their right to full compensation if they prevailed on their Title VII claims, but forfeiting their favorable positions at GM. Alternatively, they could have kept their jobs at GM, retaining the possibility of continued employment there, but, under the operation of the rule advocated here by Ford, losing the right to claim further backpay from Ford after the date of Ford's offer. The court below concluded that under these circumstances Ford's rule would present Gaddis and Starr with an "intolerable choice," 645 F. 2d, at 192, depriving them of the opportunity to receive full compensation.
Therefore, we conclude that, when a claimant rejects the offer of the job he originally sought, as supplemented by a right to full court-ordered compensation, his choice can be taken as establishing that he considers the ongoing injury he has suffered at the hands of the defendant to have been ended by the availability of better opportunities elsewhere. For this reason, we find that, absent special circumstances,
Although Title VII remedies depend primarily upon the objectives discussed above, the statute also permits us to consider the rights of "innocent third parties." City of Los Angeles Department of Water & Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702, 723 (1978). See also Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 371-376 (1977). The lower court's rule places a particularly onerous burden on the innocent employees of an employer charged with discrimination. Under the court's rule, an employer may cap backpay liability only by forcing his incumbent employees to yield seniority to a person who has not proved, and may never prove, unlawful discrimination. As we have acknowledged on numerous occasions, seniority plays a central role in allocating benefits and burdens among employees.
The sacrifice demanded by the lower court's rule, moreover, leaves the displaced workers without any remedy against claimants who fail to establish their claims. If, for example, layoffs occur while the Title VII suit is pending, an employer may have to furlough an innocent worker indefinitely while retaining a claimant who was given retroactive seniority. If the claimant subsequently fails to prove unlawful discrimination, the worker unfairly relegated to the unemployment lines has no redress for the wrong done him. We do not believe that "`the large objectives'" of Title VII, Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U. S., at 416 (citation omitted), require innocent employees to carry such a heavy burden.
In conclusion, we find that the rule adopted by the court below disserves Title VII's primary goal of getting the victims of employment discrimination into the jobs they deserve as quickly as possible. The rule, moreover, threatens the interests of other, innocent employees by disrupting the established seniority hierarchy, with the attendant risk that an innocent employee will be unfairly laid off or disadvantaged because a Title VII claimant unfairly has been granted seniority.
On the other hand, the rule that a Title VII claimant's rejection of a defendant's job offer normally ends the defendant's ongoing responsibility for backpay suffers neither of these disadvantages, while nevertheless adequately satisfying Title VII's compensation goals. Most important, it also serves as a potent force on behalf of Title VII's objective of bringing discrimination to an end more quickly than is often possible through litigation. For these reasons we hold that, absent special circumstances, the rejection of an employer's unconditional job offer ends the accrual of potential backpay liability. We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
JUSTICE BLACKMUN, with whom JUSTICE BRENNAN and JUSTICE MARSHALL join, dissenting.
After finding that petitioner Ford Motor Company had discriminated unlawfully against Judy Gaddis and Rebecca Starr because of their sex, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's backpay award to the two women "as a proper exercise of discretion founded on not clearly erroneous factual determinations." 645 F.2d 183, 201 (CA4 1981). The Court today reverses this unremarkable holding with a wide-ranging advisory ruling stretching far beyond the confines of this case. The Court's rule provides employers who
To justify its new rule, the Court mischaracterizes the holding of the Court of Appeals, undertakes an intricate economic analysis of hypothetical situations not presented here, and invokes the rights of "`innocent third parties,'" ante, at 239, who are not before the Court. By so doing, the Court not only supplants traditional district court discretion to mold equitable relief, but also ensures that Judy Gaddis and Rebecca Starr—the only Title VII claimants whose rights are at issue in this lawsuit—will not be made whole for injury they indisputably have suffered. I find the Court's ruling both unnecessary and unfair. I dissent.
The Court frames the question presented as "whether an employer charged with discrimination in hiring can toll the continuing accrual of backpay liability ... simply by unconditionally offering the [Title VII] claimant the job previously denied, or whether the employer also must offer seniority retroactive to the date of the alleged discrimination." Ante, at 220. In my view, the Court simply and completely misstates the issue. The question before us is not which of two inflexible standards should govern accrual of backpay liability in all Title VII cases, but whether the District Court's award of backpay relief to Gaddis and Starr in this case constituted an abuse of discretion.
The Court makes frequent and puzzling reference to the "onerous burden[s]" and "sacrifice demanded by the lower court's rule." Ante, at 239, 240. See also ante, at 227 ("the lower court's rule"); ante, at 229 ("[t]he rule adopted by the court below"); ibid. ("the Court of Appeals' rule"); ante, at 230, n. 12 ("the rule applied by the court below"); ante, at 238 ("[t]he rule ... adopted by the court below"); ante, at 241
In Albemarle, this Court directed that, in most Title VII matters, "the standard of [appellate] review will be the familiar one of whether the District Court was `clearly erroneous' in its factual findings and whether it `abused' its traditional discretion to locate `a just result' in light of the circumstances peculiar to the case," 422 U. S., at 424 (citation omitted). With regard to Title VII backpay relief, however, the Court specified that "`the [district] court has not merely the power but the duty to render a decree which will so far as possible eliminate the discriminatory effects of the past as well as bar like discrimination in the future.'" Id., at 418, quoting Louisiana v. United States, 380 U.S. 145, 154 (1965). To achieve this purpose, "Congress took care to arm the courts with full equitable powers. For it is the historic purpose of equity to `secur[e] complete justice.'" 422 U. S., at 418 (citation omitted).
Thus, the goal of appellate review is to ensure that the district courts have exercised their remedial discretion in the way that "allow[s] the most complete achievement of the objectives of Title VII that is attainable under the facts and circumstances of the specific case." Franks v. Bowman Transportation Co., 424 U. S., at 770-771. "The courts of appeals must maintain a consistent and principled application of the backpay provision, consonant with [Title VII's] twin statutory objectives, while at the same time recognizing that the trial court will often have the keener appreciation of those facts and circumstances peculiar to particular cases." Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U. S., at 421-422.
In this case, the trial court's findings of fact were uncontroverted. In July 1971, Judy Gaddis and Rebecca Starr sought jobs at petitioner Ford's automotive parts warehouse in Charlotte, N. C. "Because of their experience, each was qualified to work at Ford as a `picker-packer.'" App. to
Despite Gaddis' persistent requests for job interviews, petitioner interviewed neither woman immediately, supposedly because no job vacancy existed. Id., at A-160—A-161. The unit supervisor testified: "Ms. Gaddis called me on several occasions and asked if I was hiring, and I said no, . . . I just have too much work to do to sit down and interview people if I'm not hiring." App. 31. Shortly thereafter, however, in August 1971, Ford hired male applicants to fill four job openings. App. to Pet. for Cert. A-159—A-160. "At least two of the men ... were offered their jobs after Gaddis and Starr applied." Id., at A-160 (emphasis in original).
Gaddis filed a sex discrimination charge with respondent EEOC in September 1971. Id., at A-154. In January 1973, Gaddis and Starr were recalled to jobs at a nearby General Motors warehouse. In July 1973, petitioner made a vague job offer first to Gaddis, then to Starr.
Gaddis, and then Starr, turned down petitioner's job offer. The District Court found that the offer was "refused by both women since they were at that time back at work in the General Motors warehouse, having been recalled to work in January,
Based on its factual findings, the District Court concluded as a matter of law that "Ford discriminated against ... Gaddis and Starr on the basis of their sex by failing to employ them in its warehouse in the positions filled in August, 1971." Id., at A-167. In rulings not contested here, the District Court also found that 10 other women had established prima facie cases of unlawful sex discrimination by Ford. Id., at A-168.
To determine the backpay remedy to which Gaddis and Starr were entitled, the District Court attached no legal significance to the women's decision to decline beginning employment at Ford nearly two years after they unlawfully had been denied those same jobs and six months after they had begun accumulating seniority elsewhere.
Applying the standard of review specified in Franks, supra, and Albemarle, supra, the Court of Appeals, 645 F. 2d,
The Court of Appeals rested its narrow ruling on two key facts: that "Gaddis and Starr could accept [Ford's] offer only by forfeiting the seniority they had accumulated at General Motors and without a compensating offer of seniority at Ford to alleviate the effects of the discrimination against them in 1971." Id., at 192. (Emphasis added.) The court expressed no view as to whether Ford's backpay liability would have been tolled if Gaddis and Starr could have accepted Ford's job offer without forfeiting seniority accumulated elsewhere. Nor did the Court of Appeals decide whether the women would have been obliged to accept Ford's offer had it encompassed some compensating offer of seniority, short of full retroactive seniority.
Contrary to this Court's suggestion today, the Court of Appeals announced no general rule that an employer's "backpay liability should be tolled only by the rejection of an offer that includes seniority retroactive to the date on which the alleged discrimination occurred." Ante, at 228 (emphasis added). The Court of Appeals merely refused to announce a broad new rule, urged by Ford, requiring victims of Title VII discrimination to "accept job offers which include a loss of seniority in order to preserve their back pay rights." 645 F. 2d, at 192. Such an inflexible approach, the court decided, would frustrate Title VII's central purposes by permitting
The Court today accepts Ford's invitation, wisely declined by the Court of Appeals, and adopts its broad new rule governing awards of backpay relief in Title VII cases: henceforth, "absent special circumstances, the rejection of an employer's unconditional job offer ends the accrual of potential backpay liability."
First: The Court's new rule is flatly inconsistent with Albemarle's unambiguous directive "that, given a finding of unlawful discrimination, backpay should be denied only for reasons which, if applied generally, would not frustrate the central statutory purposes of eradicating discrimination throughout the economy and making persons whole for injuries suffered through past discrimination." 422 U. S., at 421. Applied generally, the Court's rule interferes with both objectives.
The Court's approach authorizes employers to make "cheap offers" to the victims of their past discrimination. Employers
The Court's rule also violates Title VII's second objective—making victims of discrimination whole. Again, the rule's anomalies are well illustrated by the facts of this case. Had petitioner not discriminated against Gaddis and Starr, both would have begun to work at Ford in August 1971. By July 1973, both would have accumulated nearly two years of seniority. Because of Ford's discrimination, however, each experienced long periods of unemployment and temporary employment before obtaining jobs elsewhere.
This Court now truncates those awards simply because Gaddis and Starr refused to accept Ford's offers of beginning employment in 1973. Yet even if Gaddis and Starr had accepted
The Court claims that its new rule "powerfully motivates employers to put Title VII claimants to work, thus ending ongoing discrimination as promptly as possible." Ante, at 230. In fact, the discrimination is not ended, because a discrimination victim who accepts a "cheap offer" will be obliged to work at a seniority disadvantage, and therefore will suffer ongoing effects from the employer's discriminatory act. The Court also alleges that its rule promotes "cooperation and voluntary compliance" with Title VII by giving both employers and claimants incentives to make and accept "unconditional" job offers. Ante, at 228-229. If the Court's rule furthers this end, however, it does so only by weakening the bargaining position of a claimant vis-à-vis the employer. Discrimination victims will be forced to accept otherwise unacceptable offers, because they will know that rejection of those offers truncates their backpay recovery. A rule that shields discriminating employers from liability for their past discrimination and coerces bona fide Title VII claimants to accept incomplete job offers is fundamentally incompatible with the purposes of Title VII.
Second: The Court's rule unjustifiably limits a district court's discretion to make individual discrimination victims
The Court recognizes that its new rule interferes with district court discretion to make complete backpay awards in individual cases. Thus, the Court expressly preserves the principle of appellate deference to the "sound discretion" of the trial court in "exceptional circumstances." Ante, at 238-239, n. 27. Yet, curiously, the Court offers no explanation why the facts of this very case fail to satisfy its own "exceptional circumstances" test.
Third: I am disturbed by the Court's efforts to justify its rule by relying on situations not presented by this case. For example, the Court partially rests its rule on an "unemployed or underemployed claimant's statutory obligation to minimize damages" by accepting an unconditional job offer without seniority. Ante, at 234. Because Gaddis and Starr were fully employed when Ford finally offered them jobs, however, neither the District Court nor the Court of Appeals exempted unemployed or underemployed victims of discrimination from accepting offers like Ford's.
Fourth and finally: I am struck by the contrast between the Court's concern for parties who are not here and its studied indifference to the real-life concerns of the parties whose interests are directly affected. When the Court finally confronts the choice that actually faced Gaddis and Starr, ante, at 236-239, it blithely suggests that "[a]fter all, they had the option of accepting Ford's unconditional offer and retaining the right to seek full compensation at trial" in the form of retroactive seniority. Ante, at 237. Yet the Court earlier acknowledges that "[d]elays in litigation unfortunately are now commonplace, forcing the victims of discrimination to suffer years of underemployment or unemployment before they can obtain a court order awarding them the jobs unlawfully denied them." Ante, at 228.
"If the choice presented to Gaddis and Starr was difficult," the Court continues, "it was only because it required them to assess their likelihood of prevailing at trial." Ante, at 238. Without consulting the record, the Court then states:
This is a comfortable rationale stated from the sidelines. Unfortunately, the abstract and technical concerns that govern the Court's calculations bear little resemblance to those that actually motivated Judy Gaddis and Rebecca Starr. When asked on cross-examination why she had turned down Ford's 1973 offer, Gaddis testified: "I had seniority [at General Motors] and I knew that I wasn't in danger of any layoff, where if I had accepted the job at Ford I might have worked a week or two weeks and been laid off because I would have been low seniority." App. 47 (emphasis added). Similarly, Starr testified on cross-examination: "I had seniority at General Motors. I had about fifteen people working under me. I could go to work at Ford and work a week and I knew that they could lay me off." 4 Tr. 365-366 (emphasis added).
To a person living in the real world, the value of job security today far outstrips the value of full court-ordered compensation many years in the future. The Court's elaborate speculation about the concerns that "presumably" motivated Gaddis and Starr nowhere recognizes what a Ford job without seniority actually meant to Gaddis and Starr—a job from which they could be laid off at any moment. Unlike the Court, Gaddis and Starr recognized that if they traded their jobs with seniority for jobs without seniority, they could quickly become unemployed again, long before they had the chance to vindicate their rights at trial.
To people like Gaddis and Starr, the knowledge that they might someday establish their Title VII claims on the merits provides little solace for their immediate and pressing personal needs. Starr's trial testimony reveals just how much job security meant to her:
I agree with the Court that "the victims of job discrimination want jobs, not lawsuits." Ante, at 230. See also, ante, at 221 ("The claimant needs work that will feed a family and restore self-respect. A job is needed—now"). When Ford made its 1973 offers to Gaddis and Starr, however, they had jobs, in which they had accumulated seniority despite Ford's discrimination. I therefore cannot accept the Court's conclusion that these women should have traded those jobs for uncertain employment in which back seniority could be won only by lawsuit. Nor can I justify penalizing Gaddis and Starr because they "discounted" the ultimate likelihood of obtaining court-ordered retroactive seniority at a different rate than the Court does today.
After hearing all the witnesses and appraising all the evidence, the District Court exercised its equitable discretion to shape complete backpay relief for Gaddis and Starr. In light of all the circumstances, the District Court refused to penalize Gaddis and Starr for declining Ford's 1973 job offer. Applying the correct standard of review over Title VII remedies,
To buttress the assertion that the Court has addressed a question not presented, the dissent claims that we have "misrea[d]" the Court of Appeals' decision, "transform[ing] a narrow Court of Appeals ruling into a broad one, just so [we could] reverse and install a broad new rule of [our] own choosing," post, at 249, n. 8, rather than attempt, as best we are able, to decide the particular case actually before us. Because we believe we have correctly and fairly framed the question, we decline the opportunity to address further this ad hominem argument.
The second issue is the only one involving Smith. Ford disputed the District Court's finding that Ford discriminated against the three women, claiming that the court reached its conclusion because it erroneously allocated the burden of proof. We are persuaded, however, that the District Court's findings were consistent with Texas Dept. of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248 (1981).
In McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), we set forth the basic allocation of burdens and order of presentation of proof in a Title VII case alleging discriminatory treatment. See also Furnco Construction Corp. v. Waters, 438 U.S. 567 (1978), and Board of Trustees v. Sweeney, 439 U.S. 24 (1978). Despite these decisions, some confusion continued to exist. In Burdine we reiterated that after a plaintiff has proved a prima facie case of discrimination, "the burden shifts to the defendant `to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's rejection.'" 450 U. S., at 253 (citation omitted). The "ultimate burden of persuading the trier of fact that the defendant intentionally discriminated against the plaintiff remains at all times with the plaintiff." Ibid. (citation omitted). It was then made clear that:
"The defendant need not persuade the Court that it was actually motivated by the proffered reasons. . . . It is sufficient if the defendant's evidence raises a genuine issue of fact as to whether it discriminated against the plaintiff." Id., at 254-255 (footnote omitted).
As neither the District Court nor the Court of Appeals cited Burdine (apparently because it had only recently been decided), we restate the foregoing principles. We conclude, however, on the basis of the specific findings of fact by the District Court, undisturbed by the Court of Appeals, that the plaintiffs in this case carried their burden of persuasion.
As Burdine commands, the District Court did not place the burden of persuasion on Ford. Instead, it began its discussion of liability by straightforwardly declaring that the EEOC "ha[d] established that Ford discriminated against Smith, Gaddis and Starr on the basis of their sex." App. to Pet. for Cert. A-167. The court supported this conclusion by pointing, not only to the EEOC's proof of a prima facie case, but also to "its showing that Ford had never hired women into the warehouse until November, 1972, and that [its] procedures for hiring were vague and were based on highly subjective criteria." Id., at A-167 to A-168. The court, moreover, entered findings of fact discrediting each of Ford's proffered justifications for refusing to hire the women. Id., at A-155 to A-161. This progression of factual findings and legal conclusions indicates that the District Court found by a preponderance of the evidence that Ford's justifications were "unworthy of credence," 450 U. S., at 256, and that the company had discriminated on the basis of sex. These findings are fully consistent with Burdine.
As Ford points out, the Court of Appeals opinion contains some statements that are arguably inconsistent with Burdine. That court corrected any misimpression generated by these statements, however, with a discussion directly focusing on the burden-of-proof issue. 645 F.2d 183, 189, n. 5 (CA4 1981). In light of this discussion, and because it is clear that the trier of fact properly allocated the burden of proof, we find no merit in Ford's burden-of-proof argument.
The principles developed under the NLRA generally guide, but do not bind, courts in tailoring remedies under Title VII. See, e. g., Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 366-367 (1977); Franks v. Bowman Transportation Co., 424 U.S. 747, 768-770 (1976); Albemarle Paper Co., supra, at 419, and n. 11. Therefore, throughout this opinion we refer to cases decided under the NLRA as well as under Title VII.
Claimants often take other lesser or dissimilar work during the pendency of their claims, even though doing so is not mandated by the statutory requirement that a claimant minimize damages or forfeit his right to compensation. See, e. g., Merriweather v. Hercules, Inc., 631 F.2d 1161 (CA5 1980) (voluntary minimization of damages in dissimilar work); Thornton v. East Texas Motor Freight, 497 F.2d 416, 422 (CA6 1974) (voluntary minimization of damages by moonlighting).
In connection with the remedial provisions of the NLRA, we said: "Making the workers whole for losses suffered on account of an unfair labor practice is part of the vindication of the public policy which the Board enforces. Since only actual losses should be made good, it seems fair that deductions should be made not only for actual earnings by the worker but also for losses which he willfully incurred." Phelps Dodge Corp. v. NLRB, 313 U.S. 177, 197-198 (1941).
Some lower courts have indicated, however, that after an extended poriod of time searching for work without success, a claimant must consider taking a lower-paying position. See, e. g., NLRB v. Madison Courier, Inc., supra, at 245-246, 472 F. 2d, at 1320-1321; NLRB v. Southern Silk Mills, Inc., 242 F.2d 697, 700 (CA6), cert. denied, 355 U.S. 821 (1957). If the claimant decides to go into a dissimilar line of work, or to accept a demotion, his earnings must be deducted from any eventual backpay award. See § 706(g); Merriweather v. Hercules, Inc., supra, at 1168; Taylor v. Philips Industries, Inc., 593 F.2d 783, 787 (CA7 1979) (per curiam).
Decisions construing the remedial provision of the NLRA, § 10(c), 29 U. S. C. § 160(c), are in accord. See, e. g., In re Nevada Consolidated Copper Corp., 26 N. L. R. B. 1182, 1235 (1940) (persons unlawfully refused jobs must be offered jobs with "any seniority or other rights and privileges they would have acquired, had the respondent not unlawfully discriminated against them") (quoted in Franks v. Bowman Transportation Co., supra, at 770), enf. denied, 122 F.2d 587 (CA10 1941), rev'd, 316 U.S. 105 (1942).
Gaddis and Starr presumably rejected Ford's offer because they thought their jobs at GM were worth more to them than full compensation (Ford's offer plus a court award) discounted by the risks of litigation. In essence, the position adopted by the court below and advocated here by the EEOC turns on the fact that we cannot be sure that, had Gaddis and Starr known they were going to win their lawsuit, they still would have rejected Ford's offer. Had they known they were going to win, of course, they would have rejected the Ford job only if they valued the GM jobs more than they valued the combination of Ford's job plus the value of court-ordered compensation undiscounted by the risks of litigation. To agree with the EEOC is, in effect, to contend that a claimant is not made whole for purposes of Title VII unless he decided to stay at a replacement job that was worth to him more than the sum of (1) the defendant's job, (2) the right to seek full court-ordered compensation, and, in addition, (3) a sum analogous to insurance against the risk of loss at trial. We discern, however, no reason for concluding that Title VII requires the defendant to insure the claimant against the possibility that the defendant might prevail in the lawsuit.
The dissent attempts to characterize "the loss of their accumulated seniority at [a] replacement jo[b]" as such a cost of relocation. Post, at 252-253, n. 11. By so doing, the dissent simply confuses the costs of changing from one job to another—whatever the respective advantages and disadvantages of the two jobs might be—with the differences between the two jobs.
"The provisions of this subsection are intended to give the courts wide discretion exercising their equitable powers to fashion the most complete relief possible. In dealing with the present section 706(g) the courts have stressed that the scope of relief under that section of the Act is intended to make the victims of unlawful discrimination whole, and that the attainment of this objective ... requires that persons aggrieved by the consequences and effects of the unlawful employment practice be, so far as possible, restored to a position where they would have been were it not for the unlawful discrimination." 118 Cong. Rec. 7168 (1972), quoted in Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U. S., at 421.
"Q. Did [the clerk to the warehouse manager] say that the job was being offered to you, or did he discuss simply with you, in the form of an interview, the possibility of hiring you into some job?
"A. It was so vague that I couldn't pinpoint anything down. They never did say what type of work it would be, whether it would be [parts] picking or whether it would be in sheet metal or whether it would be putting up stock or whether it would be on a day shift or night shift, whether it was a permanent or temporary job. At the time, I had a good seniority with General Motors and I had a secure job, and so on those grounds, I refused it." App. 43.
Similarly, Starr testified on cross-examination:
"I remember [the clerk to the warehouse manager] wasn't specific on the job about what it would be. I did have, at General Motors I had fifteen, I don't know if it was fourteen or fifteen people under me. I had seniority, and I also, this is the truth about [it,] I was scared. Whenever I had worked at Ford before, I had been badgered and I don't know, I was just, I wanted to look into the job. Yet, I had a fear to go back. I didn't know what I would be facing." Id., at 54.
"Q. Whose decision was it to call Ms. Gaddis and Ms. Starr?
"A. It was my decision.
"A. Well, mainly because we had a suit, EEOC suit filed against us, and we wanted to give one of them an opportunity to go to work for us, and we only had one, maybe two openings at that time.
"Q. Mr. Ely, you indicated in your testimony that you offered a job to one of the women, either Ms. Gaddis or Ms. Starr, in July, 1973. Is that correct?
"A. Yes, that's correct.
"Q. You also stated that you offered such job because of the EEOC charge which had been filed against Ford Motor Company. Is that correct?
"A. That's correct." Id., at 17-18.
I expect that federal courts will find no meaningful distinction between a worker's refusal to accept a job offer because he believes that acceptance would force him to incur costs, and a similar refusal based on the worker's judgment that changing jobs would prove costly. In either case, for purposes of awarding Title VII relief, the reasonableness of the worker's refusal should be left to the trial court's discretion.
Under the Court's approach, in contrast, employers will no longer have any incentive to offer retroactive seniority. Any awards of retroactive seniority to bona fide Title VII claimants will thus be court-ordered, and will be entered only after "the lengthy delays that too often attend Title VII litigation." Ante, at 221. By delaying awards of retroactive seniority until final judgment in a significant number of cases, the Court's approach ensures that the seniority rights of comparatively greater numbers of incumbent employees will be affected adversely.