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PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION v. ST. JOE MINERALS CORPORATION ZINC SMELTING DIVISION (05/13/76)

decided: May 13, 1976.

PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION, PETITIONER
v.
ST. JOE MINERALS CORPORATION ZINC SMELTING DIVISION, RESPONDENT



Original jurisdiction in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission v. St. Joe Minerals Corporation Zinc Smelting Division.

COUNSEL

Frank Finch, III, Assistant General Counsel, with him Sanford Kahn, General Counsel, for petitioner.

Robert W. Hartland, with him Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for respondent.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Kramer did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Blatt

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 456]

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission) has, in this action, petitioned the Court to enforce an order of the Commission which directs the St. Joe Minerals Corporation, Zinc Smelting Division (St. Joe), the respondent, to answer written interrogatories issued during the course of an investigation of the Company. Before reaching the merits of the petition, however, it is necessary to set forth briefly the factual background.

On August 21, 1972, the Commission, acting on its own initiative, served St. Joe with a formal complaint charging the company with discriminatory practices in violation of Section 5 of the Pennsylvania Human Relations

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 457]

Act*fn1 (Act), 43 P.S. § 955. This was one of many nearly identical complaints filed against various employers which were selected as "targets" for investigation on the basis of statistics compiled by the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission v. United States Steel Corporation, Pa. , 325 A.2d 910 (1974), a divided Supreme Court affirmed the decision of this Court*fn2 in which we held that one of these complaints failed to set forth the particulars of the alleged discriminatory practices as required by Section 9 of the Act, 43 P.S. § 959. In an attempt to meet this statutory requirement here, the Commission twice amended its original complaint against St. Joe to include employment statistics of St. Joe which were obtained from the EEOC. Subsequent to the filing of the Second Amended Complaint the Commission also requested St. Joe to answer a set of written interrogatories*fn3 in an attempt to discover detailed information bearing upon the alleged discriminatory practices. St. Joe refused to comply with this request and on June 30, 1975 the Commission formally ordered St. Joe to submit complete answers within fifteen days. Again St. Joe refused and the Commission has now petitioned this Court to enforce its order of June 30.

The respondent contends that the Court lacks statutory authority to entertain the Commission's petition and that in any event the interlocutory nature of the Commission's order precludes enforcement at this time.

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 458]

It is clear, of course, that Section 401 of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970,*fn4 17 P.S. § 211.401, vests this Court with original jurisdiction to entertain proceedings initiated by the Commonwealth. See Pennsylvania Crime Commission Petitions, 446 Pa. 152, 285 A.2d 494 (1971), and, therefore, as a threshold matter we must consider the investigatory powers of the Commission which the Commission alleges will support the instant proceeding.

It must be remembered "that the power of an administrative agency must be sculptured precisely so that its operational figure strictly resembles its legislative model." Community College of Delaware County v. Fox, 20 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 335, 351, 342 A.2d 468, 478 (1975); Zamantakis v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, 10 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 107, 308 A.2d 612 (1973). Here, Section 9 of the Act, 43 P.S. § 959, provides, inter alia, that the Commission, upon its own initiative, may file a complaint "which shall state the name and address of the person, employer, labor organization or employment agency alleged to have committed the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of, and which shall set forth the particulars thereof. . . ." (Emphasis added.) The complaint held to be ...


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