Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Line 10 on the first page, strike ``and scope''.
Line 8 on the first page, strike ``or economic loss''.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 581, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Johnson) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment which would exempt from section 2(a) of the bill any claim for monetary relief under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.
During the subcommittee hearing on H.R. 1927 in the Judiciary Committee, I expressed concern about the effect the bill's original language would have on civil rights claims. In particular, I was concerned that the bill applied to all class actions and that it restrictively defined ``injury'' to mean the alleged impact of a defendant's action on a plaintiff's body or property. Although the bill was revised in committee to delete this narrow definition of ``injury'' from H.R. 1927 and to limit
the bill's scope to class actions seeking monetary relief for personal injury or economic loss, I remain concerned that significant categories of civil rights cases could still be effectively precluded by this bill.
Plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases, cases that seek backpay and other monetary relief for economic loss resulting from an adverse employment decision, frequently pursue class actions because such employment cases tend to be the kind that are well-suited for class treatment. These cases often involve multiple victims who were subjected to the same discriminatory employment practice or policy. While damages awarded pursuant to a single plaintiff may not be large enough to deter the employer's
alleged wrongdoing, aggregate damages awarded to plaintiffs as a result of a class action would have a deterrent effect.
Unfortunately, the bill still requires class action plaintiffs to prove at the certification stage that every potential class member suffered the same type and same scope of injury, a requirement that is virtually impossible and cost prohibitive to meet. This onerous requirement would effectively deter employment discrimination plaintiffs from proceeding with any class actions.
Moreover, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 already imposes significant constraints on the ability of plaintiffs to pursue class actions. Indeed, it was an employment discrimination case in Walmart v. Dukes that the Supreme Court gave what, in my view, was a cramped interpretation of rule 23's commonality requirement making it harder for employees claiming discrimination to proceed as a class.
Because of my continuing concerns with the legislation's potential effects on this important category of civil rights cases, I urge the House to adopt my amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.