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PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD v. OVERBROOK GOLF CLUB (ET AL. (06/25/56)

THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


June 25, 1956

PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
v.
OVERBROOK GOLF CLUB (ET AL., APPELLANT).

Appeal, No. 271, Jan. T., 1955, from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 3 of Philadelphia County, Sept. T., 1954, No. 3450, in case of Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board V. Overbrook Golf Club. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Louis H. Wilderman, with him Richard H. Markowitz, Paula R. Markowitz, and Wilderman & Markowitz, for appellant.

William A. Welsh and George W. Alexander, Jr., with them Paul F. Barnes, James F. Wildeman, Special Deputy Attorney General, Leon Ehrlich, Deputy Attorney General, and Herbert B. Cohen, Attorney General, for appellees.

Before Stern, C.j., Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 385 Pa. Page 360]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

On a complaint to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board by the Hotel and Club Employees Union, Local No. 568, AFL, charging the Overbrook Golf Club with an unfair labor practice, the Board dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. On appeal by the Union from the Board's final order, the Court of Common Pleas No. 3 of Philadelphia County affirmed the action of the Board in an order which is now before us for review on the Union's appeal.

The Golf Club employed, part-time, a waitress in its dining room for a little less than six weeks when she was summarily dismissed. She charged that her dismissal resulted from her participation in organizational activity for the complaining Union of which she was a member in good standing. The waitress's dismissal for the alleged reason assigned by her formed the basis of the Labor Relations Board's complaint, on the Union's charges, that the Golf Club's action constituted an unfair labor practice under Section 6(1)(a) and (c) of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act of June 1, 1937, P.L. 1168, as amended, 43 PS ยง 211.1 et seq.

In its answer, the respondent Golf Club averred that "it is a purely non-profit organization, is not conducted for business or profit in any way, and is not engaged in an industrial activity or pursuit of any kind." The Club accordingly denied the jurisdiction of the Labor Relations Board to entertain the complaint and also denied that it had discharged the waitress for her union activity but, on the contrary, averred that she was discharged for just and sufficient cause.

The Board conducted a hearing on the complaint and answer and, thereafter, filed an opinion and a nisi order in which it held that it had jurisdiction of the matter and that the respondent was guilty of the unfair

[ 385 Pa. Page 361]

    labor practice charged. The respondent filed exceptions to the opinion and order. After argument thereon, the Board ordered that additional testimony be taken to determine the relative magnitude and character of the business done by the respondent's dining room and bar. On the basis of the testimony adduced at the supplemental hearing the Board filed a decision and final order whereby it revoked its nisi order, dismissed the charges and the complaint issued thereon and marked the case "closed" on its records. The final order was based on the Board's conclusion that the Overbrook Golf Club is not an "employer" within the meaning of Section 3, subsection (c), of the Pennsylvania Labor Relation Act for the reason that its operation is neither "industrial" nor "commercial".

The Board based its conclusion on the following findings of fact: "The evidence now discloses that the operation of the bar and the restaurant is primarily for the benefit and enjoyment of the members of the Respondent, and the use thereof by non-members is merely incidental. It appears that all non-member functions must be sponsored and paid for by a member of the Respondent; that the operations of the bar and the restaurant (operated at a substantial loss) are essentially private and not commercial or competitive enterprises; that the operation is not industrial; and that the operations are wholly within the scope of its charter as a non-profit country club. As the Respondent is a non-profit corporation, the operations of the bar and the restaurant [are] conducted not essentially for profit but primarily for the pleasure and accommodation of the members of the Respondent ...." As the foregoing findings are "supported by substantial and legally credible evidence", they are to be taken as conclusive. Section 9(b) of the Act expressly so dictates. And, the legitimate inferences to be drawn therefrom

[ 385 Pa. Page 362]

    are to be treated likewise: Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Sanson House Enterprises, 378 Pa. 385, 391, 106 A.2d 404; Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Cadman, 370 Pa. 1, 2, 87 A.2d 643; Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Kaufmann Department Stores, Inc., 345 Pa. 398, 400, 29 A.2d 90.

The Board avowedly came to its legal conclusion on the basis of this court's relevant decisions, then consisting of Western Pennsylvania Hospital v. Lichliter, 340 Pa. 382, 17 A.2d 206, and Salvation Army Case, 349 Pa. 105, 36 A.2d 479, to which must now be added Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Mid-Valley Hospital Association, 385 Pa. 344, 124 A.2d 108. A detailed review of the provisions of the Act, and in particular the provisions of Section 2 under the heading "Findings and Policy", led us "irresistibly" in the Salvation Army Case to the conclusion that the legislature meant to limit the provisions of the Act to industrial pursuits and, therefore, "intended all of the statutory provisions and regulations of the Act to apply exclusively to industrial disputes." Hence, the term "employer", as used in the Act, does not embrace a hospital, as in the Western Pennsylvania Hospital case, or a charitable or eleemosynary institution, as in the Salvation Army case. The appellant does not question the merit of those decisions but asserts that they should be considered as sui generis, the hospital being unique in its humane relation to the public and the Salvation Army being a pure charity serving mainly indigents. However, in the Mid-Valley Hospital Association case, supra, Mr. Chief Justice STERN, after expressly reaffirming the rationale of the decisions in the Western Pennsylvania Hospital and Salvation Army cases, said that "The basis for the decision [referring to the Western Pennsylvania Hospital case] was, in brief, that such hospitals, being non-profit corporations not

[ 385 Pa. Page 363]

It is interesting to note that in its final decision the Board recognized that it "has repeatedly held that [it is] without jurisdiction over the maintenance employees of a non-profit social club", citing Youghiogheny County Club's Employes Case, No. 85 (1946), and Royal Order of Moose's Employes Case, No. 238 (1950). The Board further noted that, in the one case where it did take jurisdiction of a complaint against a social club (Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Melodee Club, Inc., No. 19 (1952)), it was "under facts, not applicable to the instant case."

We need spend no time in discussing the appellant's further argument based on decisions, contrary to our own, from other jurisdictions. The seeming conflict has twice before been urged upon us in similar situations (see Salvation Army case and Mid-Valley Hospital case, supra) and each time the contention was flatly rejected with the observation, in passing, that our construction of the Act has had implied legislative approval over a considerable period of year.

Mr. Justice MUSMANNO dissents.

Disposition

Order affirmed at the appellant's costs.

19560625

© 1998 VersusLaw Inc.



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