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LEECHBURG AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/11/75)

decided: June 11, 1975.

LEECHBURG AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in case of Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission v. Leechburg Area School District, Docket No. E-5181.

COUNSEL

Donetta W. Ambrose, with her J. Raymond Ambrose, Jr., and Ambrose & Ambrose, for appellant.

Jay Harris Feldstein, Assistant General Counsel, with him Sanford Kahn, General Counsel, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judge Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr. Dissenting Opinion by President Judge Bowman. Judge Mencer joins in this dissent.

Author: Crumlish

[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 615]

On July 21, 1972, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission) initiated a complaint against the Leechburg Area School District (Appellant) alleging that certain provisions of the Appellant's maternity leave policy discriminated against females in violation of

[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 616]

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) (Supp. 1974-1975) (the Act).*fn1 The Commission objected to those provisions of the Appellant's maternity leave policy which required a teacher to begin a maternity leave without pay at the end of the sixth month of pregnancy; limited such leave to married pregnant teachers; and required a teacher to teach at least one year between leaves. Following a pre-hearing conference at which attempts at conciliation failed, the parties entered into a stipulation of facts upon which the Commission would base its decision. On April 30, 1974, the Commission found the above provisions to be violative of Section 5(a) of the Act and ordered Appellant to eliminate these provisions and formulate new policies in conformity with regulations of the Commission.

Hence this appeal.

Our review in appeals of this nature is limited to determining whether the Commission order is in accordance with law, and whether the findings of fact necessary to sustain the order are supported by substantial evidence. J. Howard Brandt, Inc. v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, 15 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 123, 324 A.2d 840 (1974). As the facts have been stipulated, we must only decide whether Appellant's maternity leave policies constitute unlawful sex discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment under Section 5(a) of the Act.

[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 617]

Appellant concedes that its requirements that a teacher begin maternity leave at the end of her sixth month of pregnancy cannot stand in the face of the Supreme Court's decision in Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974), which held respective four and five month prenatal leave policies of two school boards to be violative of due process. Controlling of the instant appeal, however, is our recent decision in Freeport Area School District v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, 18 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 400, 335 A.2d 873 (1975), where this Court held that a three and a half month mandatory prenatal leave policy violated Section 5(a). President Judge Bowman, writing for the Court, stated:

"The instant case, insofar as it involves prenatal terminations of active employment, is controlled in principle by Cerra v. East Stroudsburg Area School District, 450 Pa. 207, 299 A.2d 277 (1973), where our Supreme Court held that the dismissal of a school teacher for failure to resign at ...


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