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decided: November 22, 1974.


Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in case of Donald L. Hamilton and Sherry Hamilton in behalf of their minor children, Lynn and Sharon v. Loyal Order of Moose Lodge No. 145, No. P-860.


Elmer E. Harter, for appellant.

Roy Yaffe, Assistant General Counsel, with him Sanford Kahn, General Counsel, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for appellee.

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

Author: Kramer

[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 434]

This is an appeal filed by the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge No. 145 (Lodge) from an adjudication of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission)

[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 435]

    dated December 5, 1973, in which the Commission found that the Lodge had committed an unlawful discriminatory practice in violation of Section 5(i)(1) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (Act), Act of October 27, 1955, P.L. 744, as amended, 43 P.S. ยง 955(i)(1) (Supp. 1974-1975).

The basic facts in this case are not in dispute. Donald L. Hamilton is a Specialist 6 in the United States Army with more than 13 years military service. He and his wife, Sherry Hamilton, were reared in the Williamsport area of Pennsylvania. Prior to his departure for duty in Korea in 1972, Mr. Hamilton moved his wife, his son and his two daughters from Fort Monmouth, New Jersey to Williamsport. The Hamiltons and their children are of the black race. At the time of the hearings in this case the Hamiltons' son was ten years of age and their two daughters were eight and six years of age. As part of their children's training, the Hamiltons had involved them in organized junior bowling competition. All three of the Hamilton children were duly certified and eligible to bowl in the bantam category under the regulations of the American Junior Bowling Congress (AJBC).

Upon the family's arrival in Williamsport in early November, 1972, the children asked their parents if they could continue to participate in organized bowling. On November 18, 1972, Mrs. Hamilton telephoned the director of bowling at the Williamsport YMCA. The YMCA director advised Mrs. Hamilton that the bantam league at the YMCA could accept her son, but that the YMCA, due to lack of support, did not offer organized bantam bowling for girls. The YMCA director told Mrs. Hamilton, however, that the Lodge sponsored a bantam bowling league, in which girls could participate, at the bowling alley in the Lodge's building. The YMCA director stated for the record that he did not know at the time of the conversation that the Hamiltons were black,

[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 436]

    or he would not have recommended the Lodge bowling league to Mrs. Hamilton because he knew the Lodge had restrictions as to race. In any event, on November 18, 1972, after his wife's conversation with the YMCA director, Mr. Hamilton telephoned the Lodge and talked with the Lodge's junior bowling coach. After the coach determined that the Hamiltons' daughters were duly certified by AJBC, she advised Mr. Hamilton that there were openings for additional bowlers at that time and that the Hamiltons' girls would be welcome. Near the conclusion of this telephone conversation, Mr. Hamilton inquired whether the race of his children would have any bearing upon their acceptance into the Lodge's bantam bowling league. At this point, the coach apologetically advised him that his daughters would not be permitted to bowl in the league because the Lodge's rules and policies would not permit their acceptance. At no point during this telephone conversation was Mr. Hamilton told that the Lodge allowed only children and grandchildren of members to bowl in the Lodge's bantam league.

Mr. Hamilton complained to the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and to the local Human Relations Committee. Both of these organizations attempted to conciliate the matter but were unsuccessful because the officials of the Lodge steadfastly asserted that children of nonmembers were not permitted to participate in the Lodge's bantam bowling league. The record in this case indicates that the Lodge did have an unwritten rule or policy which required participants in the bantam bowling league to be either children or grandchildren of members. The record also indicates, however, that the Hamilton incident triggered some immediate and dramatic ...

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