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PITTSBURGH PRESS COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/21/77)

decided: July 21, 1977.

PITTSBURGH PRESS COMPANY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in case of Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission v. Pittsburgh Press Company, a corporation, Docket No. E-8528.

COUNSEL

Robert H. Shoop, Jr., with him Thorp, Reed & Armstrong, for appellant.

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

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 219]

This is an appeal by the Pittsburgh Press Company (the Press) from an order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (the Commission) ordering the Press to cease and desist the publication of

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 220]

"Situation-Wanted" advertisements the contents of which are prohibited by Section 5(g) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (Act),*fn1 in that those contents specify or in some manner express the race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex or national origin of the person placing the advertisement.

The facts in this case are quite simple. The Press prints a "Situations-Wanted" classification in its classified advertisement pages as a service to its readers. Advertising space is, of course, paid for by the advertisers. Situation-wanted advertisements provide a means by which persons seeking employment may communicate their qualifications and job aspirations to the employing public at large. Usually, such an advertisement consists of a brief description of the job-seeker and the type of job he or she desires. The Press publishes these advertisements exactly as they are submitted. Beyond listing the ads alphabetically, the Press in no way alters any ad nor attempts to classify them further than by the simple "Situations-Wanted" classification.

Section 5 of the Act provides, inter alia :

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification, or in the case of a fraternal corporation or association, unless based upon membership in such association or corporation, or except where based upon applicable security regulations established by the United States or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

(a) For any employer because of the race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin or non-job related handicap or disability of any individual to refuse to hire or employ, or to bar or to discharge from employment

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 221]

    such individual, or to otherwise discriminate against such individual with respect to compensation, hire, tenure, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, if the individual is the best able and most competent to perform the services required.

(e) For any person, whether or not an employer, employment agency, labor organization or employe, to aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce the doing of any act declared by this section to be an unlawful discriminatory practice, or to obstruct or prevent any person from complying with the provisions of this act or any order issued thereunder, or to attempt, directly or indirectly, to commit any act declared by this section to be unlawful discriminatory practice.

(g) For any individual seeking employment to publish or cause to be published any advertisement which specifies or in any manner expresses his race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex or national origin, or in any manner expresses a limitation or preference as to race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex or national origin of any prospective employer.

On March 11, 1975, the Commission initiated a complaint charging the Press with violating Section 5(e)*fn2 of the Act by having aided and abetted the doing of an unlawful discriminatory act prohibited by Section 5(g).

After attempts at conciliation failed, a public hearing was held by the Commission on August 6, 1975, which resulted in a unanimous recommendation by the Hearing Panel that the full Commission find in favor

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 222]

    of the complainant. The cease and desist order was subsequently issued by the Commission.

An indication of the type of advertisement found by the Commission to violate Section 5(g) can be ascertained from the specific examples set forth in the Hearing Panel's findings of fact. These examples were drawn from stipulated exhibits which included the Press' ...


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