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ERIE HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION EX REL. SANFORD DUNSON v. ERIE INSURANCE EXCHANGE AND H. O. HIRT (02/19/74)

decided: February 19, 1974.

ERIE HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION EX REL. SANFORD DUNSON, APPELLANT,
v.
ERIE INSURANCE EXCHANGE AND H. O. HIRT, MANAGER, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County in case of Erie Human Relations Commission ex rel. Sanford Dunson v. Erie Insurance Exchange and H. O. Hirt, Manager, No. 73 of 1972.

COUNSEL

Angelo P. Arduini, Assistant City Solicitor, for appellant.

William F. Illig, with him MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton, for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 268]

This is an appeal filed by the Erie Human Relations Commission (Commission) ex rel. Sanford Dunson (Dunson) from an order dated February 20, 1973, of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, sustaining the preliminary objections of the Erie Insurance Exchange (Insurance Exchange) and H. O. Hirt (Hirt) (collectively referred to as appellees).

This case had its genesis on June 10, 1971, when Hirt, who is President and Manager of the Insurance Exchange, discharged Dunson from his employment with the Insurance Exchange. The basis for the discharge is not really relevant to our holding in this case, but apparently involved Dunson, a Black man, in "an alleged incident" involving a white female employee of the Insurance Exchange. In any event, on June 14, 1971, Dunson filed a complaint with the Commission alleging discrimination in his discharge. Thereafter the Commission held informal investigatory hearings, and concluded on October 28, 1971 via a letter to appellees that racial discrimination existed in Dunson's discharge. On November 22, 1971, Hirt replied by letter to the

[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 269]

Commission declining to re-employ Dunson. On November 24, 1971, the Commission voted to hold formal public hearings in the matter. On March 6, 1972, hearings were held. The appellees were present and represented by counsel at all of the hearings in this matter. Thereafter, on April 14, 1972, the Commission rendered its adjudication in which it determined that appellees, having discriminated because of race in the discharge of Dunson, were in violation of Ordinance No. 14-1954, as amended. Appellees received notice of the adjudication on April 15, 1972. On October 16, 1972, the City of Erie, through the City Solicitor's Office, filed a complaint in equity in the court below, seeking a mandatory injunction which in effect requested the court to enforce the Commission's order directing appellees to reinstate Dunson in his position of employment and to compensate him for lost pay from June 10, 1971.

The complaint clearly alleges the facts noted above, and pointedly alleges that although the Commission had entered its adjudication, the appellees had not complied with the order of the Commission. It is also quite clear from the presentation to this Court that the appellees took no appeal from the adjudication of the Commission.

The appellees filed preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer in which generally they contend (1) that the complaint failed to allege racial discrimination; (2) that there was tardiness in the rendering of the adjudication; and (3) that there were deficiencies in the findings insofar as they pertain to the reasons for Dunson's discharge. The court below in sustaining the preliminary objections found, dehors the record, that the Commission had not followed the mandates of the Ordinance, and with the obvious intention of passing upon the merits of the case, determined that the Commission had not properly concluded that there was

[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 270]

    racial discrimination in Dunson's discharge. The ...


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