The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Conner, District Judge.
A class of private plaintiffs and the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission ("EEOC") brought two civil rights actions in 1973 against the
Newspaper and Mail Deliverers' Union of New York and Vicinity ("NMDU" or
"Union") and more than fifty publishers and news distributors within the
Union's jurisdiction. Both suits charged that the Union, with the
acquiescence of the publishers and distributors, had historically
discriminated against minorities, and that the structure of the
collective bargaining agreement, combined with nepotism and cronyism, had
perpetuated the effects of past discrimination in violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Each lawsuit sought an affirmative
action program designed to achieve for minorities the status they would
have had in the newspaper delivery industry but for the alleged
On September 19, 1974, then-District Judge Lawrence W. Pierce issued an
opinion and order approving a settlement between the parties and
incorporating the Settlement Agreement in a Consent Decree, familiarity
with which is presumed. See Patterson v. Newspaper and Mail Deliverers'
Union, 384 F. Supp. 585 (S.D.N.Y. 1974) aff'd, 514 F.2d 767 (2d Cir.
1975), cert. denied, 427 U.S. 911, 96 S.Ct. 3198, 49 L.Ed.2d 1203
(1976). The Settlement Agreement implements an affirmative action program
which modifies the hiring procedures for newspaper deliverers under the
industry-wide collective bargaining agreement. It also established an
Administrator, appointed by the Court, to implement the provisions of the
Consent Decree and to supervise its performance. The Settlement Agreement
authorizes the Administrator to hear claims concerning violations of the
Consent Decree. Appeals from his decisions are heard in this Court.
The action presently before the Court is an appeal from the
Administrator's ruling of June 7, 1990. For the reasons set forth below,
his ruling is reversed.
The New York News (the "News") and NMDU appeal the Administrator's
dismissal without prejudice of all charges brought by ten News employees
in the proceeding, denominated "Claim 230."*fn1
In August and September of 1986 several New York Times ("Times")
employees filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC alleging that
both their employer and the NMDU had engaged in discriminatory conduct.
In the spring of 1987 a group of News employees also filed with the EEOC
charges of discrimination against the NMDU and their employer. Unlike the
Times employees, who were pursuing their allegations of discrimination
before both the EEOC and the Administrator in Claim 186, the News
employees had not brought these claims of discrimination before the
Administrator. In the spring of 1988, the Administrator asked the EEOC to
produce a list of persons who had filed charges against any defendants in
the Patterson case. The EEOC responded on May 18, 1988 with a list that
included these Times and News employees, whose charges were then
pending. In June 1988, the EEOC dismissed the News claimants' EEOC charges
and issued to each a Notice of Right to Sue. Each notice contained the
same explanation for the dismissal of the charge: "The court-appointed
Administrator of the Consent Decree in Patterson v. NMDU and EEOC v. NMDU
has assumed jurisdiction of these cases." Supplemental Record on Appeal
("SOA") at 40-50.
Upon receipt of copies of the right to sue letters from the EEOC, the
Administrator called a meeting of the thirteen News and twelve Times
employees identified by the EEOC. The purpose of said meeting was to
review the charges filed by each of the employees (a) to determine the
status of each charge; (b) if settled or moot, to dismiss said charges;
(c) if still pending, to determine whether the matter could be dealt with
administratively; and (d) if the charge could not be settled, to set a
date for trial. At the meeting, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund ("LDF")
requested that the Administrator adjourn all matters regarding employees
who had received right to sue letters from the EEOC, to afford them an
opportunity to file a federal complaint based on those letters. The
Administrator thereupon refused to entertain the merits of the grievances
and mandated that the parties submit briefs on the proper scope of his
All but two of the News employees who were included in Claim 230 filed
a complaint alleging violations of Title VII in federal court. Stokes, et
al. v. The New York News Corp., et al., 89 Civ. 3108 (JFK).*fn2 The
Times employees who were included in Claim 230 also filed a Title VII
action. Johnson, et al. v. NMDU, et al., 88 Civ. 6789 (WCC).
The News employees who had filed the complaint in Stokes advised the
Administrator that they would not be pursuing the matters raised in the
federal complaint before him:
It is not our intention to pursue the matters that are
raised in our complaint in Federal Court before the
administrator; . . . the charges that the EEOC had and
which are the basis of Claim 230 we believe have not
been submitted to the administrator and we do not
intend to submit them to the administrator with regard
to the Daily News.
Record on Appeal ("ROA") at 69.
On June 7, 1990, the Administrator issued the determination in Claim
230 which held that he lacked exclusive jurisdiction over Title VII
claims. On that basis, the Administrator dismissed without prejudice all
charges in Claim 230 involving minority employees at the News who had
brought a Title VII action, with the exception of Daniel Roberts.*fn3
The Administrator also dismissed without prejudice all charges subsumed
in Claim 230 of Times employees who had brought a Title VII action except
for the charges of those employees who were plaintiffs in Claim 186 and
thus were barred from relitigating their claims by the doctrine of res
The NMDU and the News now appeal the Administrator's dismissal without
prejudice of the EEOC charges brought by the ten News employees. The NMDU
contends that the Administrator has exclusive jurisdiction over these
employees' charges of discrimination because all such claims must be
remedied through the Settlement Agreement's enforcement procedures.
Unlike the NMDU, the News does not assert that the Administrator has
exclusive jurisdiction, but contends, rather, that he must proceed to
consider the merits of the charges of the ten News employees. Finally,
the News ...