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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. FREEPORT AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT (07/06/76)

decided: July 6, 1976.

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



COUNSEL

Sanford Kahn, Pa. Human Relations Commission, Harrisburg, for appellant.

Harry K. McNamee, Marshall, McNamee, MacFarlane & Vierthaler, Butler, for appellee.

Jones, C. J. and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 467 Pa. Page 524]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This case concerns the scope of relief which the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) may order when a respondent is shown to have engaged in a

[ 467 Pa. Page 525]

    discriminatory practice following a complaint filed with PHRC by an individual. The Freeport Area School District (Freeport) argues that PHRC may order affirmative relief only for the named complainant. PHRC claims that it may order such relief for all victims of a discriminatory practice.

On December 19, 1972, Linda Szul filed a complaint with PHRC*fn1 alleging that Freeport's maternity leave policy unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of sex.*fn2 The complaint was amended on January 11, 1973, for the sole purpose of alleging that the discriminatory maternity leave policy had injured other similarly situated female employees of Freeport. PHRC investigated the complaint and found that there was cause to believe it to be valid. Following the statutorily mandated attempt to conciliate the complaint,*fn3 a public hearing was begun on April 19, 1973. Complainant Szul and three other female employees of Freeport testified at the hearing. Following the hearing, PHRC issued findings of fact, conclusions of law and a final order directing Freeport, inter alia, both to abandon the discriminatory maternity leave policy and to pay Szul and the two similarly situated teachers who had testified at the hearing the prenatal pay and other benefits they would have received had they not been subject to the unlawful maternity leave policy.*fn4

[ 467 Pa. Page 526]

Freeport appealed the final order to the Commonwealth Court,*fn5 arguing, inter alia, that PHRC had no authority to order affirmative relief for any but named complainants. The Commonwealth Court agreed, stating that the only connection the additional victims of Freeport's discrimination had with the case "was as subpoenaed witnesses and recipients of the Commission's unauthorized largesse and all-protective care." It held that granting affirmative relief to victims of Freeport's discriminatory policy who were not specifically named in the complaint denied Freeport due process of law.*fn6

PHRC filed a petition for leave to appeal to this Court which we granted.*fn7 Freeport asks us to quash the appeal, contending that PHRC has no standing to appeal the Commonwealth Court's order. PHRC asks us to reverse that portion of the Commonwealth Court's order which held that PHRC ...


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