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PHYLLIS CARNEY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/25/83)

decided: January 25, 1983.

PHYLLIS CARNEY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION, RESPONDENT. MAGEE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, INTERVENOR



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in the case of Phyllis A. Carney v. Magee Memorial Hospital, No. E-5564.

COUNSEL

Harold R. Berk, with him John Matrullo, Hovsepian and Sandler, P.C., for petitioner.

Michael Hardiman, Assistant General Counsel, for respondent.

No appearance for intervenor.

Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 358]

Phyllis Carney seeks review of an order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC), entered on the recommendation of an examiner following a formal hearing conducted on January 30, 1981, directing that the proceeding initiated by her sex discrimination complaint be closed for failure to establish probable cause to credit the allegations contained in the complaint. Two issues are raised: whether the procedure followed at the hearing denied to the petitioner due process of the law, and whether the record made at the hearing sufficiently supports the PHRC's determination.

The facts giving rise to the petitioner's complaint are disputed in many particulars but may be cast in general terms as follows. The petitioner was hired in September, 1969, as an executive secretary to Mr. Paul Labrecht, then the Administrator of the Magee Convalescent Hospital in Philadelphia. At this time the hospital's organizational structure for purposes of its daily operations was divided into a medical and a non-medical component; command of the former being entrusted to one Dr. Parry, the Medical Director, and command of the latter being in the hands of the Administrator, Mr. Labrecht.

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 359]

About nine months later, the petitioner was elevated to the position of administrative assistant which promotion entailed duties in addition to the secretarial functions previously performed in the areas of personnel relations; recruiting, interviewing, and initial training of new employees; and the preparation and compilation of documents necessary to the hospital's continued accreditation.

In February, 1972 Mr. Labrecht was discharged from his position as hospital administrator. Thereafter for a period of about one year, until the hiring of one Joseph Rainville in January, 1973, the hospital was without a chief executive officer with respect to its non-medical domain. During this interregnum, the petitioner continued to perform her functions described above. Approximately two weeks after his appointment, Mr. Rainville discharged the petitioner giving variously as reasons for the discharge a proposed reorganization of the hospital's administrative staff and the inability of the petitioner to take dictation by the shorthand method -- a skill Mr. Rainville assertedly required of his personal secretary. After the petitioner's discharge there followed nearly a decade of administrative and judicial inquiry into the particulars of and foundation for the petitioner's charge that the proffered reasons for discharge were mere pretext and that, in fact, Mr. Rainville was motivated by a design to discriminate against her on account of her sex.

The petitioner filed the complaint here at issue on February 20, 1973, alleging that on or about February 2, 1973, the respondent hospital

     terminated her from her position as Administrative Assistant because of her SEX, FEMALE. It is further alleged that while employed as Administrative Assistant ...


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