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BELL v. WYETH LABS.

March 27, 1978

JOSEPH S. BELL
v.
WYETH LABORATORIES, INC., CHARLES KERN, PETER B. RUSSELL and JAMES JOHNSON



The opinion of the court was delivered by: FOGEL

 FOGEL, J.

 This is an employment discrimination case in which the plaintiff, Joseph S. Bell, ("Bell"), alleges that his discharge by defendant, Wyeth Laboratories, Inc., ("Wyeth"), was a result of unlawful sex discrimination. Asserting a variety of federal claims, as well as claims grounded in state law, *fn1" Bell invokes our jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, and under principles of pendent jurisdiction.

 The defendants have moved for the dismissal of all claims, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ. P. 12(b). Subsequent to the filing of the defendants' Motion to Dismiss, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of all claims, other than plaintiff's claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., against Wyeth and the individual defendants Kern, Russell, and Johnson. *fn2" The only matter which remains pending, at this juncture, is defendants' Motion to Dismiss those Title VII claims.

 With respect to the Title VII claims, defendants contend that we lack subject matter jurisdiction, due to plaintiff's failure to satisfy the jurisdictional prerequisites which act as conditions precedent to filing a Title VII action in the district court. This contention is two-fold: first, defendants contend that plaintiff failed to comply with the deferral provisions of § 706(c) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, As Amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(c); and second, they argue that plaintiff failed to file a timely charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as required by § 706(e) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e).

 Thus, an issue with which we are squarely faced, is whether Bell's failure to present his claim of sex discrimination to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission deprives us of jurisdiction to entertain this action under Title VII in this court.

 Section 706(c) of the Act, the so-called "deferral provision," provides in pertinent part as follows:

 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(c). *fn3" Pennsylvania has a statute prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sex and establishing the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to enforce that statute, 43 P.S. § 951 et seq.

 The legislative history of § 706(c) -- as gleaned from the 1964 legislative debates -- demonstrates a Congressional concern that Title VII, as originally drafted, might bypass efforts at the state and local level to deal with discriminatory employment practices. Accordingly, the bill was amended so as to guarantee the States the opportunity to bring their expertise and experience to bear, without premature interference by the Federal Government. See, Humphrey Explanation of Titles VII and XI, Legislative History of Title VII and XI of Civil Rights Act of 1964, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, page 3008. Senator Humphrey introduced the § 706 amendment with the following explanation:

 
If the practice complained of occurs in a State or locality which has a law prohibiting such practices and establishing an agency to deal with them and there is no such agreement, the individual complainant cannot file his charge with the Commission until the State or local agency has been given an opportunity to handle the problem under State or local law. However, after the agency has had 60 days to adjust the complaint or after it terminates proceedings on it, the complainant may go to the Federal Commission.

 Humphrey Explanation, supra, at 3003. We believe that the legislative history supports our conclusion that § 706(c) requires that an aggrieved person resort to state agencies prior to filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC; and that failure to resort to the state agency constitutes a jurisdictional bar to a Title VII action. Other courts, upon reviewing the legislative history, having reached conclusions consistent with our own. See, e.g., Dubois v. Packard Bell Corp., 470 F.2d 973, 975 (10th Cir. 1972); Crosslin v. Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Co., 422 F.2d 1028, 1030-1031 (9th Cir. 1970).

 In our interpretation of § 706(c), we are guided by the Supreme Court's decision in Love v. Pullman Co., 404 U.S. 522, 30 L. Ed. 2d 679, 92 S. Ct. 616 (1972). Love was a case in which the EEOC, upon receipt of a written charge of employment discrimination, orally referred the charge to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and then formally "filed" the charge upon termination of the state proceedings. In holding that this procedure complied with the provisions of the Civil Rights Act, the Court noted that:

 
A person claiming to be aggrieved by a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, may not maintain a suit for redress in federal district court until he has first unsuccessfully ...

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