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SLIPPERY ROCK STATE COLLEGE AND ALBERT A. WATREL v. PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION (01/07/74)

decided: January 7, 1974.

SLIPPERY ROCK STATE COLLEGE AND ALBERT A. WATREL, PRESIDENT, APPELLANTS,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in case of Dolores Barracano Schmidt, Complainant, v. Slippery Rock State College and Albert A. Watrel, President, No. E-4703P.

COUNSEL

Edward A. Miller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellants.

Mark A. Senick, Assistant General Counsel, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. President Judge Bowman did not participate. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 11 Pa. Commw. Page 502]

This is an appeal from an order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission directing appellants to offer Dolores Barracano Schmidt, complainant, a contract of employment as a full-time assistant professor as of the 1971-1972 academic year; permit complainant to fulfill any contractual obligations she might have at another institution before she returns; pay her full salary beginning with the 1971-1972 academic year, less any salary paid by appellants or others during that period; pay interest on the sum determined to be due beginning 30 days from the date of the order; and to cease and desist from discriminating in hire, tenure, promotions, and any other incidents of employment in any manner whatsoever against any persons.

The Commission based its order on a determination that appellants committed an unlawful discriminatory practice in violation of Section 5(a) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, Act of October 27, 1955, P.L. 744, as amended, 43 P.S. ยง 955(a), in that they failed to hire complainant at the rank of full-time assistant professor for the 1971-1972 academic year, and failed to renew her contract for the 1972-1973 academic year because of her sex.

Appellants base their appeal on two grounds: first, the record does not contain substantial evidence to support the Commission's decision; and, second, the Commission exceeded its authority. We must sustain appellants' first ground and reverse the Commission.

Complainant was hired in the English Department at Slippery Rock State College in 1968 as a part-time

[ 11 Pa. Commw. Page 503]

    faculty member. At that time, and indeed since 1960, complainant had fulfilled all the requirements for her doctorate in English except writing*fn1 and defending her dissertation. This is the critical "hard fact" in the record. It is clear from the entire record -- claimant's testimony, Dean Schmittlein's testimony, and the exhihibts -- that before the complainant could reasonably expect to obtain permanent full-time status in the English Department of Slippery Rock State College, she should complete the requirements of her doctorate. Indeed, to quote from Commission's Exhibit "A," a letter from Dean Schmittlein, dated September 10, 1971: " I would, however, suggest that before you request full-time employment, you very carefully consider the work necessary for the successful completion of your terminal degree. I believe the work on Dreiser deserves to be completed. If you aspire to be a full-time faculty member, particularly with equal opportunity and recognition, you will wish to compete on an equal basis and this necessitates the successful completion of your degree." (Emphasis supplied.) To quote from Commission's Exhibit "B," a letter from the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, dated November 1, 1971: "Your last application for employment leads me to believe that the completion of your Ph.D degree was imminent. Since we were led to believe at the time of your employment that you would be completing your degree, it would seem reasonable that you should complete this degree in the immediate future. In the meantime, I cannot guarantee your continued employment, let alone full-time employment under the current conditions of austerity, coupled with the availability of many competent people with terminal degrees in your area." Again from Commission's

[ 11 Pa. Commw. Page 504]

Exhibit "C," a letter from the Chairman of the Department of English, dated January 20, 1972: "Any persons we will consider hiring for full-time positions will be ones who already hold the doctorate degree. As to your request concerning full-time employment in the department, all conversations I have had with the administration on this matter lead me to believe that this would not be possible so long as you have not completed work on your terminal degree." Thus, as indicated from the Commission's Exhibits, as well as from the Dean's testimony, it is clear to us that the ...


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