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WEAVER v. GROSS

March 28, 1985

JUDI WEAVER, Plaintiff
v.
NORMAN J. GROSS, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOGAN

 Plaintiff, a white female, has brought this action against the individual directors, officers and stockholders of 1330 19th Street Corporation ("the Corporation") for damages arising from the termination of her employment as a bartender at the nightclub "Numbers" operated by the Corporation. Plaintiff alleges that she was terminated as the result of her association with a black person while she was on the premises of Numbers as a customer on December 7, 1982. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that on that evening she was seen by the defendant Norman Gross leaving Numbers in the company of several acquaintances, one of whom was a black man. The plaintiff further alleges that, upon seeing the plaintiff in the company of the black gentleman, defendant Gross said to the assistant manager of Numbers, "Did you see who she walked out of here with? I want her out of here. I don't even want her in this place, effective now." The following day, December 8, 1982, plaintiff's employment with Numbers was terminated.

 Plaintiff maintains that she was discharged from her employment in accordance with a discriminatory policy to prevent blacks from patronizing Numbers or being employed by the Corporation, developed and implemented by the defendants in conjunction with one another, as the sole officers, directors and stockholders of the Corporation, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1985 and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, D.C. Code §§ 1-2512 and 1-2526 (Count 1). Plaintiff has also brought common law pendant claims against defendant Gross for intentional interference with advantageous business relations (Count 2) and defamation (Count 3).

 This case is presently before the Court on the motion of defendants Polar, Curtis and Lubeznik to dismiss Count one, and defendant Gross' motion to dismiss Counts two and three for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), *fn1" or for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1).

 Count One: Federal Civil Rights/D.C. Human Rights Act

 Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 provides:

 
All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts . . . as is enjoyed by white citizens.

 42 U.S.C. § 1981. *fn2" Section 1981 has been recognized to prohibit racial discrimination in the making and enforcement of purely private contracts as a valid exercise of Congress' power under the Thirteenth Amendment to eradicate the badges and incidents of slavery. Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U.S. 160, 168, 49 L. Ed. 2d 415, 96 S. Ct. 2586 (1976).

 With respect to those potentially liable, it has been held that officers, directors and employees of a corporation may become personally liable when they intentionally cause an infringement of the rights secured by § 1981, regardless of whether the corporation may also be held liable. See e.g., Tillman v. Wheaton-Haven Recreation Association, Inc., 517 F.2d 1141, 1146 (4th Cir. 1975); Jeter v. Boswell, 554 F. Supp. 946, 953-54 (N.D.W.Va. 1983); Manuel v. International Harvester, 502 F. Supp. 45, 49-50 (N.D. Ill. 1980). In the present case, the plaintiff alleges that defendant Gross commented on her association with a black person, and initiated the termination of her employment as the result of that incident. The plaintiff has, therefore, stated a prima facie case under § 1981 against defendant Gross. *fn3"

 As to the other defendants, however, there is no allegation that they were present at the time the statement was made, or otherwise directly participated in the decision to fire the plaintiff. Instead, plaintiff alleges only that these defendants, along with Gross, adopted a policy to deny blacks admittance to Numbers and employment with the corporation. In Tillman v. Wheaton-Haven Recreation Association, Inc., 517 F.2d 1141 (4th Cir. 1975), the Fourth Circuit recognized that the adoption of a discriminatory policy by a corporation's board of directors could serve as the basis of § 1981 liability against individual directors, but only when they personally voted for the policy, or otherwise directly participated in the corporation's tort. Id. at 1144; see also Curtis v. Loether, 415 U.S. 189, 39 L. Ed. 2d 260, 94 S. Ct. 1005 (1974) (action brought under statutes forbidding racial discrimination fundamentally for the redress of a tort). Thus, in Tillman the court held that the plaintiff had stated a cause of action under § 1981 against the directors of a community swimming pool association who voted to deny blacks membership. Id. at 1144-46.

 The present case lacks the same type of direct correlation between the adoption of the policy alleged by the plaintiff and harm allegedly suffered by the plaintiff as was present in Tillman. The plaintiff here raises no allegation that any of the individual defendants voted specifically to discharge her because of her association with blacks, or even that they generally adopted a policy to dismiss white employees who fraternized with blacks. Therefore, because the plaintiff has alleged no policy adopted by defendants Polar, Curtis and Lubeznik directly involving retaliation against whites for their association with blacks, the plaintiff has failed to state a claim against those defendants under § 1981. *fn4"

 The plaintiff also asserts injury under Section 1985 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 as the result of the defendants' alleged policy to discriminate against blacks. Section 1985 provides:

 
If two or more persons . . . conspire . . . for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws . . . whereby another is injured in his person or property, or deprived of having and exercising any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, the party so injured or deprived may have an action for recovery of damages . . . against one or more of the conspirators.

 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) (emphasis added). *fn5" ...


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