High Court Rejects a Racial-Bias Claim

WASHINGTON - In a case involving First Union Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., the Supreme Court left intact a ruling that a 19th-century civil rights law does not protect workers allegedly fired because of their race.

On Monday, the court rejected an appeal, without comment, by DeVaughan Williams, who said First Union National Bank fired him in 1986 because he is black.

Mr. Williams sought monetary damages against the bank, citing an 1866 law enacted to protect freed slaves after the Civil War.

The Supreme Court's action upheld a ruling last December by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the law affords no protection to those fired for racial bias.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans job discrimination, provides for reinstatement with back pay but no additional monetary awards.

Mr. Williams was hired in 1984 as a senior credit officer in the Greensboro branch of Charlotte-based First Union.

Tokenism Claimed

He had applied for a higher-ranking job but claimed he was told that he was hired as a "token" black with no realistic chance of advancement. After adverse employment reviews, he was fired in November 1986.

Mr. Williams accused the bank of racial discrimination in a 1986 complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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