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BOARD TRUSTEES v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/21/77)

decided: December 21, 1977.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES, LUZERNE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE, DR. JAMES TOOLE, BOARD CHAIRMAN, PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION AND JOAN S. SKURNOWICZ, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in case of Joan S. Skurnowicz v. Board of Trustees, Luzerne County Community College, Dr. James Toole, Board Chairman, Docket No. E-5585.

COUNSEL

Richard M. Goldberg, with him Hourigan, Kluger & Spohrer Associates, for appellants.

James D. Pagliaro, Assistant General Counsel, with him Sanford Kahn, General Counsel, for appellees.

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

Author: Blatt

[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 123]

The Luzerne County Community College appeals here from an adjudication of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission) which concluded that the College had committed a discriminatory employment practice in denying Joan S. Skurnowicz employment as a college instructor.

Ms. Skurnowicz had applied to the College for a teaching position in 1972. She was subsequently notified that a temporary position was available in the College's history department for the second semester of the 1973-74 academic year. Following interviews, the history department's chairperson and the College's academic dean concluded that Ms. Skurnowicz was the best qualified candidate for the position and they recommended her for appointment by the College's Board of Trustees. The Board, however, rejected this recommendation and appointed a male applicant to fill the position. Ms. Skurnowicz then filed a complaint with the Commission alleging that the College had denied her employment because of her sex in violation of Section 5(a) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act*fn1 (PHRA), 43 P.S. § 955(a). After an investigation and an unsuccessful attempt to conciliate the dispute, a three member panel of the Commission

[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 124]

    held a hearing and subsequently issued an adjudication which concluded that the College had violated Section 5(a) in not hiring Ms. Skurnowicz. The hearing panel's adjudication was adopted by the Commission and the College has now appealed to this Court.

Section 44 of the Administrative Agency Law,*fn2 71 P.S. § 1710.44, limits our scope of review here to a determination as to whether or not the findings of fact necessary for the Commission's adjudication are supported by substantial evidence, whether or not the adjudication was made in accordance with law and whether or not the Commission abused its discretion in reaching its decision or in directing appropriate relief. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission v. Feeser, 29 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 437, 439-40, 371 A.2d 549, 551 (1977). The College argues here that its reasons for not hiring Ms. Skurnowicz are non-discriminatory and justifiable and that the Commission's findings are not supported by substantial evidence.

Section 5(a) of the PHRA provides in pertinent part:

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification. . .

(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 such individual, or to otherwise discriminate against such individual with respect to compensation, hire, tenure, terms, conditions or privileges of ...


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