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CARL R. SCHRACHTA Plaintiff-Appellant
DONALD L. CURTIS M.D. Acting Administrator of Veterans Administration Defendant-Appellee
No. 83-2869
December 19 1984
Gerald A. Goldman Goldman & Marcus Chicago Illinois Robert E. Riley Goldman & Marcus Chicago Illinois for Plaintiff-Appellant.
Gail C. Ginsberg AUSA Chicago Illinois (Dan K. Webb USA) for Defendant-Appellee.
Cummings Chief Judge Cudahy and Posner Circuit Judges.
Per Curiam

Plaintiff Carl Schrachta works for the Veterans Administration ("VA") as a warehouseman and has unsuccessfully applied for a number of other positions within the VA. The complaint alleges that Schrachta is qualified for these other jobs but that his applications for transfer or promotion have been denied because of poor job performance evaluations. Plaintiff contends that the appraisals of his performance are without basis and are part of a scheme by his supervisors to ensure that Schrachta keep his present job; he alleges that because of a hiring freeze his position could not be filled if he left. The statutory basis for this suit is purportedly the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 ("CSRA") in particular 5 U.S.C. SEC. 2301 (1982) *fn1 which Schrachta argues includes an implied right of action for federal employees. The district court held that SEC. 2301 contains no implied private right of action and dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We affirm.


In Cort v. Ash 422 U.S. 66 45 L. Ed. 2d 26 95 S. Ct. 2080 (1975) the Supreme Court established a four-part test to determine whether a statute includes an implied private right of action: (1) whether the plaintiff is one of the class for whose "especial benefit" the statute was enacted; (2) whether there is any explicit or implicit indication of legislative intent either to create or deny a private right of action; (3) whether an implied remedy is consistent with the statute's underlying purposes; and (4) whether the cause of action is traditionally within the province of state law. Id. at 78. Recent decisions however including opinions of this court *fn2 indicate that the focal point of the inquiry is legislative intent: did Congress intend to create a private right of action when it enacted the statute? Daily Income Fund Inc. v. Fox 464 U.S. 523 104 S. Ct. 831 839 78 L. Ed. 2d 645 (1984); Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith v. Curran 456 U.S. 353 377-78 72 L. Ed. 2d 182 102 S. Ct. 1825 (1982). Accordingly the factors delineated in Cort v. Ash are now used to determine Congressional intent. Daily Income Fund 104 S. Ct. at 839.


The CSRA scattered throughout Title 5 of the U.S. Code is a detailed comprehensive effort to regulate employee-management relations in the federal government. Of particular relevance to the case before us are the Act's provisions for administrative and judicial review of federal personnel decisions. The statutory scheme divides federal personnel actions into four categories and provides for different types of review for each classification: (1) "adverse actions " see 5 U.S.C. SEC. 7512 (1982) for which judicial review is available following administrative proceedings and an administrative appeal see 5 U.S.C. SEC.(S) 7513 7701 7703 (1982); (2) "adverse actions" for which administrative proceedings are required 5 U.S.C. SEC. 7503 (1982) but for which there is apparently no administrative appeal see Bush v. Lucas 462 U.S. 367 103 S. Ct. 2404 2415 n.28 76 L. Ed. 2d 648 (1983) (dictum); Sen. Rep. No. 95-969 95th Cong. 2d Sess. 46-47 reprinted in 1978 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 2723 2768-69; (3) "prohibited personnel practices " defined in 5 U.S.C. SEC.2302(b) (1982) which may be reviewed by the Office of Special Counsel ("OSC") 5 U.S.C. SEC. 1206 (1982); *fn3 and (4) minor personnel actions which are left to agency discretion and are not reviewable administratively or judicially. See Carducci v. Regan 230 U.S. App. D.C. 80 714 F.2d 171 175 (D.C. Cir. 1983); *fn4 Broadway v. Block 694 F.2d 979 981-84 (5th Cir. 1982). In addition cases involving alleged discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the Equal Pay Act the Rehabilitation Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act must be filed in federal district court. 5 U.S.C. SEC. 7703(b)(2) (1982).

The conduct of which plaintiff complains clearly does not fit into either of the first two categories and although it could conceivably fall within the third see SEC. 2302(b)(4) he does not make this argument; rather Schrachta contends that a private right of action is implied under 5 U.S.C. SEC. 2301 (1982) which sets forth a series of "merit system principles" in SEC. 2301(b) to govern federal personnel management practices. This would seem to put plaintiff's case in the fourth category for which the statute provides no relief.

A host of federal courts have considered and rejected the proposition that the CSRA provides an implied private right of action. Veit v. Heckler 746 F.2d 508 (9th Cir. 1984); Carducci v. Regan; Braun v. United States 707 F.2d 922 (6th Cir. 1983); Carter v. Kurzejeski 706 F.2d 835 (8th Cir. 1983); Broadway v. Block; Borrell v. United States Int'l Communications Agency 221 U.S. App. D.C. 32 682 F.2d 981 (D.C. Cir. 1982). *fn5 None have discussed the issue with respect to SEC. 2301 but their reasoning is equally applicable here. At least two district courts have rejected arguments that SEC. 2301 creates an implied private right of action. Watson v. United States Dept. of Housing and Urban Development 576 F. Supp. 580 585 n.5 (N.D. Ill. 1983); Favors v. Ruckelshaus 569 F. Supp. 363 369 (N.D. Ga. 1983).

To begin with plaintiff has not cited any legislative history indicating that Congress intended to create a private right of action under the CSRA. To the contrary the detailed administrative framework established by the Act convinces us as it has other courts that Congress intended the remedies provided by the CSRA to be the exclusive means to remedy violations of the Act's substantive provisions. Veit v. Heckler 746 F.2d at 510-11; Carducci v. Regan 714 F.2d at 174; Braun v. United States 707 F.2d at 925; Carter v. Kurzejeski 706 F.2d at 840. See Bush v. Lucas 103 S. Ct. at 2406 (Because a federal employee's claims that his First Amendment rights were violated "arise out of an employment relationship that is governed by comprehensive procedural and substantive provisions giving meaningful remedies against the United States we conclude that it would be inappropriate for us to supplement the regulatory scheme with a new judicial remedy"). Had Congress wanted to provide for administrative or judicial review of violations of SEC. 2301's principles the rest of the Act demonstrates that it knew how to do so. Moreover an implied private remedy for minor personnel actions such as those allegedly involved here would be inconsistent with the complex remedial structure established by Congress. "The exhaustive remedial scheme of the CSRA would be impermissibly frustrated by permitting for lesser personnel actions not involving constitutional claims an access to the courts more immediate and direct than the statute provides with regard to major adverse actions." Carducci v. Regan 714 F.2d at 174. Finally Congress explicitly rejected the idea that SEC. 2301 could serve as the basis for an employee's suit:

The conference substitute in section 2301 adopts the House provision concerning the application of merit system principles. Unless a law rule or regulation implementing or directly concerning the principles is violated (as under section 2302(b)(11)) the principles themselves may not be made the basis of a legal action by an employee or agency.

H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 95-1717 95th Cong. 2d Sess. 128 reprinted in 1978 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 2860 2861.

Congressional intent seems clear to us. There is no implied right of action under SEC. 2301 to remedy alleged violations of the section's principles. The district court's judgment is AFFIRMED.


*fn1 The complaint alleged an additional statutory basis for this action: 5 U.S.C. SEC. 4302. Schrachta has abandoned his SEC. 4302 claim on appeal.

We also note that plaintiff does not claim that defendant has violated his constitutional rights. See Bush v. Lucas 462 U.S. 367 103 S. Ct. 2404 2411 &n n.14 2415-17 76 L. Ed. 2d 648 (1983); Vest v. United States Dept. of the Interior 729 F.2d 1284 1286-87 (10th Cir. 1984); Gleason v. Malcom 718 F.2d 1044 1047-48 (11th Cir. 1983); compare Andrade v. Lauer 234 U.S. App. D.C. 384 729 F.2d 1475 1490-93 (D.C. Cir. 1984).

*fn2 See e.g. Burroughs v. Hills 741 F.2d 1525 1539 (7th Cir. 1984) (Posner J. concurring); id. at 1540 (Flaum J. concurring); Michels v. United States Olympic Committee 741 F.2d 155 157 (7th Cir. 1984); Mid-America Nat'l Bank of Chicago v. First Savings and Loan Ass'n of South Holland 737 F.2d 638 639-40 (7th Cir. 1984).

*fn3 Because plaintiff did not seek relief from the OSC we need not decide whether and the extent to which OSC decisions are judicially reviewable. See Cutts v. Fowler 223 U.S. App. D.C. 414 692 F.2d 138 140 (D.C. Cir. 1982); Wren v. Merit Systems Protection Board 220 U.S. App. D.C. 352 681 F.2d 867 871-72 875 (D.C. Cir. 1982); Frazier v. Merit Systems Protection Board 217 U.S. App. D.C. 297 672 F.2d 150 162 n.41 (D.C. Cir. 1982).

*fn4 The D.C. Circuit listed only three categories in Carducci; it seems to have missed our second classification. We have subdivided "adverse actions" because the legislative history cited above emphasizes the contrast between subchapter I of Title 5 chapter 75 (5 U.S.C. SEC.(S) 7501-7504) and subchapter II (5 U.S.C. SEC.(S) 7511-7514). The regulations make the same distinction. See 5 C.F.R. SEC. 1201.3(a)(3) (1984); compare 5 C.F.R. SEC. 752.201-.203 (1984) with 5 C.F.R. SEC. 752.405(a) (1984).

*fn5 The only case cited by plaintiff in support of his position is Gilley v. United States 649 F.2d 449 (6th Cir. 1981). In Gilley the Sixth Circuit ruled that a district court could use its traditional equitable powers to issue a preliminary injunction against the transfer of a federal employee while his administrative appeal of the transfer decision was pending. The court did not however discuss the issue whether an implied right of action exists under the CSRA (it did not for example employ the analysis prescribed by Cort v. Ash and its progeny). And to the extent that the Gilley court implicitly decided the question in the affirmative the continued validity of the case is doubtful after the Sixth Circuit's decision in Braun v. United States 707 F.2d 922 (6th Cir. 1983) which held that no implied private right of action existed in the CSRA's provisions protecting "whistle-blowers" against retaliation. Indeed Gilley has never been cited by the Sixth Circuit; the holding in Braun on the other hand has recently been reaffirmed by that court Windsor v. The Tennessean 726 F.2d 277 277 278 (6th Cir.) (denying petition for rehearing) cert. denied 469 U.S. 826 105 S. Ct. 105 83 L. Ed. 2d 50 (1984). A recent First Circuit opinion released after briefing in this case also arguably supports Schrachta's argument. In Dugan v. Ramsay 727 F.2d 192 (1st Cir. 1984) the plaintiff challenged as arbitrary and unconstitutional the criteria used by the Office of Personnel Management in screening out applicants for administrative law judge positions. After the ALJ Ratings Panel rejected Dugan's arguments he filed suit in federal court under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"). The First Circuit ruled that the CSRA did not preclude judicial review under the APA. Since Schrachta has not asserted the APA as a jurisdictional basis for his suit we express no opinion on the correctness of the First Circuit's holding.