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ARNOLD J. BRYAN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (08/16/79)

decided: August 16, 1979.

ARNOLD J. BRYAN, T/A WATERVIEW LTD., PARTNERSHIP, D/B/A WATERVIEW APARTMENTS, 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. Arnold J. Bryan, t/a Waterview Ltd., Partnership, d/b/a Waterview Apartments, Docket No. H-2435, dated March 13, 1978.

COUNSEL

Barry W. Van Rensler, for appellant.

James D. Pagliaro, Assistant General Counsel, with him Robert Mirin, General Counsel, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 45 Pa. Commw. Page 127]

This appeal is from a final order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (commission), which concluded that appellant Arnold J. Bryan, general partner in Waterview, a limited partnership, had committed a discriminatory practice in violation of Section 5(h)(1) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, Act of October 27, 1955, P.L. 744, as amended, 43 P.S. ยง 955(h)(1), (Act), by withholding housing information on the basis of race. Section 5(h)(1) of the Act provides:

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice. . . .

(h) for any person to:

(1) refuse to sell, lease, finance or otherwise to deny or withhold commercial housing from any person because of the race, color, or religious creed, ancestry, sex or national origin of any prospective owner, occupant or user of such commercial housing, . . . .

[ 45 Pa. Commw. Page 128]

This Court specifically held in Tomlinson Agency v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, 11 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 227, 312 A.2d 118, that Section 5(h)(1) of the Act was intended to prohibit the withholding of information on housing availability because of race.

Our review is limited to a determination of whether the commission's adjudication is in accordance with the law and whether the findings of fact supporting its conclusions are based on substantial evidence. Chester Housing Authority v. Human Relations Commission, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 415, 305 A.2d 751 (1973).

The complaint ensued from a housing compliance test which occurred at appellant's business premises on February 3, 1975. The commission found that at 2:05 p.m. on that date, Ms. Lowenstein, a white female investigator, was told by appellant's rental agent, Mrs. Martorana, that a two-bedroom apartment would be available in March at $225 per month plus electricity. Ms. Lowenstein was shown around the rental office which served as a sample two-bedroom apartment. Further, Mrs. Martorana gave Ms. Lowenstein her business card.

At approximately 2:16 p.m. on the same date, Ms. Burke, a black female commission investigator, approached the rental office to inquire if there was a one or two-bedroom apartment available. Mrs. Martorana cursorily advised her that there was nothing available. The record also indicates that Ms. Burke was not invited into the rental office but was held at the partially opened door.

Finally, at 3:30 p.m. on the same day, Mr. Harnick, a white male commission investigator making a like inquiry, was told by Mrs. Martorana that apartment Q-11 (a two-bedroom apartment) was immediately ...


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