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decided: June 2, 1978.


Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in case of Linda Jean Richards v. Millcreek School District and John Sandel, Superintendent, Docket No. E-5611-P.


John W. Beatty, with him Knox, Graham, McLaughlin, Gornall and Sennett, Inc., for appellant.

Marc Kranson, Assistant General Counsel, with him Sanford Kahn, General Counsel, for appellee.

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

Author: Crumlish

[ 35 Pa. Commw. Page 586]

The sole question before us is whether the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission/Appellee) has the power to decide a case and issue a final order requiring affirmative action and the payment of monetary damages on a Sunday.

Appellant, The School District of the Township of Millcreek, was originally before us to appeal a decision of the Commission's finding that Appellant violated Section 5(a) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act*fn1 (Act), and ordering Appellant to (1) cease and desist from its discriminatory practices; (2) adjust its supplemental wage scales so as to equalize the wages paid to male and female athletic coaches; and (3) reimburse Complainant, Linda Jean Richards, for the loss in supplemental wages occasioned by its discriminatory acts. Appellant alleged that the Commission's findings were not supported by substantial evidence

[ 35 Pa. Commw. Page 587]

    and that the Commission's order was null and void because it was issued on a Sunday in contravention of Section 4 of the Law of 1705 (Law), 1 Sm.L. 25, as amended, 44 P.S. § 1. We decided in favor of Appellant by addressing the substantial evidence question only and determined that it was unnecessary to discuss the Sunday Law issue. Our decision was vacated by our Supreme Court which held that the Commission's decision was supported by substantial evidence. Appellant now returns to us requesting a disposition of the Sunday Law issue.

Appellant argues that, because the Commission made its decision and issued its order on a Sunday, its actions are null and void. In making this argument, Appellant relies on Section 4 of the Law of 1705, which states in relevant part:

§ 1. Process not to be served on Sunday

And be it further enacted, That no person or persons, upon the first day of the week, shall serve or execute, or cause to be served or executed, any writ, precept, warrant, order, judgment or decree, . . . ; but that the serving of any such writ, precept, warrant, order, judgment or decree, shall be void, to all intents and purposes whatsoever. . . . (Emphasis added.)

The Commission responds by stating that the issuance of an order is not synonymous with its execution and that its actions of Sunday, March 28, 1976, therefore, do not fall within the proscriptions of the Law.

We agree with this technical distinction.*fn2

The word "execute" is a term having different meanings in varying contexts. It is defined neither by

[ 35 Pa. Commw. Page 588]

    the Act nor the Law. In the absence of definition, we are directed to ascribe to the word its peculiar and appropriate meaning or definition.*fn3 Our task then is to determine the meaning of the term as employed in the Law, and as it relates to orders of the Commission.

In this context we believe the most exact definition of the term is the following definition offered by Black's Law Dictionary:*fn4

To fulfill the purpose of; to obey; to perform the commands of; as to execute a writ.

For the Commission's order to be executed, its mandates must be performed. There is no evidence that Appellant was required to comply with the Commission's order on Sunday, March 28, 1976, or any Sunday thereafter. Indeed, because of the appeals taken by Appellant, the Commission's order remains wholly executory. Our interpretation is further supported by Section 10 of the Act, 43 P.S. § 960, which provides that the Commission must rely on the power and authority of the courts of this Commonwealth for enforcement of its orders.*fn5

Accordingly, we


And Now, this 2nd day of June, 1978, the decision of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is affirmed.



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