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SCHOEPPNER v. GENERAL TEL. CO.

August 10, 1976

Janice SCHOEPPNER, on behalf of herself and on behalf of all persons similarly situated and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Unions 1635, 1636, and 1637, Unincorporated Associations, Plaintiffs,
v.
GENERAL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF PENNSYLVANIA, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

 WEBER, District Judge.

 The plaintiffs, Janice Schoeppner and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Unions No. 1635, 1636, and 1637, filed a complaint in this court against the defendant, the General Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e et seq. [1975], alleging that the defendant discriminated against Schoeppner and the other members of the class she purports to represent on the basis of sex. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-5(e), Systems Council T - 1, I.B.E.W., AFL - CIO, filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (hereinafter, "EEOC") a charge regarding the claims of discrimination that now form the basis of this lawsuit, but without mentioning Janice Schoeppner or any other individual as a victim of the Defendant's alleged discriminatory practices. The EEOC issued to the Systems Council T - 1 a "right to sue" letter, a statutory prerequisite to the subject matter jurisdiction of this court, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-5(f)(1). The defendant now moves to dismiss on the grounds that the plaintiffs' jurisdiction is fatally defective since the "right to sue" letter was issued to Systems Council T - 1, and not to any of the named plaintiffs in this action.

 For the purpose of this motion we will ignore the technical distinction between Systems Council T - 1 and the plaintiff Local Unions. Although the assertion of the plaintiffs' brief is not evidence on this record, the court will take judicial notice of that which can be proven. The relationship between the Systems Council and the Local Unions within the I.B.E.W. was fully developed before the court in other litigation recently conducted. Fed.R.Evid. 201(b)(2); United States v. Verlinsky, 459 F.2d 1085 [5th Cir. 1972].

 We accept for this motion that Systems Council T - 1 is an organization within the I.B.E.W. comprised of the officers of Locals 1635, 1636 and 1637, whose chairman is George T. Stack, listed as president of Local 1636 in the collective bargaining agreement. The function of Systems Council T - 1 is to act as bargaining agent for these three Locals in arriving at their single collective bargaining agreement with their employer.

 In view of the practical identity of Systems Council T - 1 and the Local Unions named as Plaintiffs, we hold that the issuance of the "right to sue" letter to Systems Council T - 1, instead of to one of the named local unions, should not result in the dismissal of this lawsuit. We are impelled by the fundamental principle of Title VII actions that "procedural niceties" should not bar a plaintiff from a judicial hearing on the merits of his claim, Berg v. Richmond Unified School District, 528 F.2d 1208, 1212 [9th Cir. 1975]; Jones v. United Gas Improvement Corp., 383 F. Supp. 420, 424 [E.D.Pa.1975]; Shaffield v. Northrop Worldwide Aircraft Services, Inc., 373 F. Supp. 937, 940 [M.D.Ala.1974]; see Sanchez v. Standard Brands, Inc., 431 F.2d 455, 465 [5th Cir. 1970].

 That a labor organization is a proper party to file an EEOC charge on behalf of its members is well-established as is the right of a labor union to file suit in a United States District Court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-5 [1975] provides that "a person claiming to be aggrieved" may bring suit in federal court under Title VII after the EEOC has issued to him a "right to sue" letter.

 A labor union is a "person" for the purpose of Title VII:

 § 2000e. Definitions

 
(a) the term "person" includes one or more individuals, governments, governmental agencies, political subdivisions, labor unions, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint-stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, or receivers. 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e(a)

 That a union is a "person" for purposes of Title VII suggests that a union may be a "person aggrieved" or a "person claiming to be aggrieved" since neither of the latter terms are defined specifically. International Chemical Workers v. Planters Mfg. Co., 259 F. Supp. 365 [N.D.Miss.1969] held that a union is a "person aggrieved" within the meaning of § 706(a) and (e) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-5(a) and (e), relying on a ruling of the EEOC issued on May 6, 1966. The court adopted this ruling, stating that the interpretation of a statute by an implementing administrative agency deserves heavy weight. The court also relied on a series of decisions involving administrative agencies that recognize the standing of group plaintiffs as a "person aggrieved" where the group, qua group, has an interest in the outcome of the administrative agency's decision, although it may represent broader community interests at the same time. See Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference v. FPC, 354 F.2d 608 [2nd Cir. 1965], cert. denied sub nom., 384 U.S. 941, 86 S. Ct. 1462, 16 L. Ed. 2d 540 [1966]; Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ v. FCC, 123 U.S.App.D.C. 328, 359 F.2d 994 [1966]; EEOC v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 365 F. Supp. 1105 [E.D.Pa.1973] (union may intervene in suit brought by EEOC as "person aggrieved" where complaint is no greater in scope than EEOC complaint); see also Local 186, Inter. Pulp, Sulphite and P.M.W. v. Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, infra.

 Apart from their status as an "aggrieved party", unions have standing to sue as representatives of their members and may seek individual relief for their members (e.g. back pay, reinstatement) and injunctive relief in Title VII cases. See Rosen v. Public Service Electric & Gas Co., 477 F.2d 90, 94 n. 8 [3rd Cir. 1973]; cf. EEOC v. Rinella & Rinella, 401 F. Supp. ...


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