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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. TRANSIT CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY (06/25/75)

decided: June 25, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION
v.
TRANSIT CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in case of Nettie M. Renoll v. Transit Casualty Insurance Company, No. E-3804.

COUNSEL

Robert P. Reed, with him Christian S. Erb, Jr., and Metzger, Wickersham, Knauss & Erb, for appellant.

Elisabeth S. Shuster, Assistant Counsel, with her Sanford Kahn, General Counsel, for appellee.

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

Author: Blatt

[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 45]

This is an appeal from a decision and order of the Human Relations Commission (Commission) dated July 29, 1974 in which the Transit Casualty Insurance Company (respondent) was ordered to cease and desist from discriminating on the basis of sex and to pay Ms. Nettie M. Renoll, the complainant, $12,147.03 as damages resulting from the respondent's discriminatory conduct as to her employment.

The respondent, by its agent, Markel Service, Inc. (Markel), had issued commercial motor vehicle liability insurance to Beverage Transportation, Inc. (Beverage), a commercial trucking business, effective during the period running from February 18, 1970 to February 18,

[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 461972]

. The complainant, employed by Beverage as a driver, became involved in what was termed by the insurance adjuster as an accident of minor nature on March 18, 1970 when her truck slipped on ice and snow and jumped a guard cable. After notice of the accident reached Markel, the respondent's sales and underwriting agent, Markel informed Beverage that insurance coverage for the complainant would be terminated and that she should be relieved of all driving duties as of July 10, 1970. Beverage, therefore, told the complainant that she could no longer drive for them, and she then filed a complaint with the Commission alleging that Beverage had discharged her because of her sex. In an amended complaint, however, she charged the respondent here with violations of Section 5(e) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act*fn1 and dropped her complaint as to Beverage. It is Section 5(e) of the Act which provides in part that it is unlawful for any person to aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce any employer from discharging an employee because of that person's sex.

The Human Relations Commission held hearings and concluded that the respondent, through its agent Markel, had coerced and compelled Beverage to discharge the complainant and ordered the respondent to cease and desist from such activities. The Commission then ordered the respondent to pay the complainant $12,147.03 damages with interest for lost pay through February 8, 1972. This appeal followed.

Our scope of review, of course, is limited to a determination of whether the Commission's adjudication is in accordance with law or whether the findings of fact necessary to support its adjudication are supported by substantial evidence. Gorchov Brothers Real Estate v. Human Relations Commission, 14 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 310, 321 A.2d 405 (1974).

[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 47]

In its findings of fact, the Commission listed:

"7. Markel Service, Inc. (hereafter Markel) was the General Insurance Agent for the Respondent during the period relevant hereto."

The respondent argues that it cannot be held liable for wrongful conduct of Markel who was an "independent broker" and not an agent. Arthur Wilson of Markel's underwriting department, however, testified that Markel served as a general agent for the respondent as well as for various other insurance companies. A general agent may be defined as one who is authorized to pass upon and accept risks, negotiate terms of insurance contracts and execute and deliver such contracts in accordance with the directions of the company he represents. P.L.E. Insurance ยง 31. Wilson described Markel's activities on behalf of the respondent in these terms and convincingly established the agency-principal relationship. As in all such relationships, liability may be imposed upon the principal for the misconduct of the agent. Siple v. Logan 232 Pa. Superior Ct. 322, 335 A.2d 758 (1975); see Bowman v. Home Life Insurance Company of America, 243 F.2d 331 (3rd Cir. 1957). Such is the case here.

The issue, therefore, is whether or not Markel compelled Beverage to discharge the complainant because of her sex. The respondent argues that Markel's decision to exclude the complainant from coverage took place on June 10, 1970 at a time when she was thought to be a male. The Commission found that at that time:

"8. Interstate Motor Carriers Agency (hereafter Interstate) served as a communicator between Beverage and Markel during the period relevant hereto.

"9. On June 10, 1970, Markel notified Interstate that 'Mr. (sic) Renoll was twenty-three years of age' . . . and 'unless the insured has some redeeming features to offer on this individual we would like confirmation that he (sic) is placed in ...


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