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COUNTY ALLEGHENY v. EVELYN M. WILCOX ET AL. (08/29/83)

decided: August 29, 1983.

COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, PETITIONER
v.
EVELYN M. WILCOX ET AL., RESPONDENTS. ALLEGHENY COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS ET AL., PETITIONERS V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Appeals from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in the case of Evelyn M. Wilcox, Nancy G. Carlisle, Florence M. Corbett, Leora K. Flygar, Georgina G. Franci, Margaret Greenawald, Mitzi R. Holtzman, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. County of Allegheny, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Minor Judiciary Courts of Allegheny County, Docket Nos. E-7036P, E-7149P, E-7160P, E-10447, E-10448, E-10449 and E-10450.

COUNSEL

James H. McLean, County Solicitor, with him David J. Greenberg, Assistant County Solicitor, for petitioner, County of Allegheny.

Thomas J. Dempsey, for petitioners, Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and Minor Judiciary Courts of Allegheny County.

Michael L. Foreman, Assistant General Counsel, with him Ellen M. Doyle, Assistant General Counsel, for respondents, Evelyn M. Wilcox et al.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Doyle. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 586]

In these consolidated appeals, the petitioners, the County of Allegheny (County) and the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and its minor judiciary (Court of Common Pleas) challenge an adjudication of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission). The Commission found that the petitioners had violated Section 5(a) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA)*fn1 which prohibits "any employer because of the . . . sex . . . of any individual to . . . discriminate against such individual with respect to compensation . . .", and it entered an order directing the petitioners (1) to immediately upgrade the wages of all female district justice secretaries*fn2 (secretaries) employed since April of 1973*fn3 to the level received by male district justice night court clerks*fn4 (night clerks) and, (2) to pay said secretaries backpay equal to the difference between their wages and those made by the night clerks from April of 1973 to the effective date of the upgrading.

The dispute here concerned commenced when the female secretaries filed complaints before the Commission contending, inter alia, that they were the victims

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 587]

    of sexual discrimination with respect to compensation because male night clerks received greater compensation for substantially the same work. The evidence adduced at the hearing and accepted by the Commission in its findings indicates that each female secretary applied for employment with her respective District Justice who in turn had recommended her for appointment to the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. The County had then paid the salary of each such secretary, but her work hours, location, and general duties had been controlled by the Court of Common Pleas, the Court Administrator, and the individual District Justice to whom she was assigned. Subsequent to the employment of the secretaries, the Court of Common Pleas submitted an application to the Governor's Justice Commission for a subgrant to operate a night and weekend minor court. This application was prepared by the Court Administrator, named the County's Controller as financial officer, was reviewed by the County Commissioners, and was signed by the President Judge. The application was accepted and provisions were made for the appointment of nine night clerks and the payment of their salaries, which at the program's inception allegedly were 39% more than that of the secretaries, and in 1978 was 15% more. It was set by the President Judge after conferring with the Court Administrator, and although qualified women applied for the appointment, including one of the secretaries, nine males were hired. The reason given was that the work of a night clerk was too dangerous for women because of the "suspect" nature of the citizenry involved and the absence of adequate police protection during night court. Some 19 months after the first complaint was filed before the Commission, however, a woman was hired as a night clerk on or about November 24, 1975, and since then two more women have been hired.

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 588]

Our scope of review is limited, of course, to a determination of whether or not the Commission's adjudication was in accordance with the law and if there is substantial evidence in the record to support its findings. Philadelphia Electric Co. v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, 68 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 212, 448 A.2d 701 (1982).

The petitioners argue here that no substantial evidence exists which would warrant a finding of sex discrimination with regard to compensation under Section 5(a) of the Act. Our close examination of the record, however, reveals ample testimony and evidence to support the Commission's findings that:

The duties of a district justice secretary were far more numerous than those of a night court clerk and, generally, more complex. Moreover, there were no duties that were performed by a night court clerk that were not performed by a district justice secretary. Yet, the salary for the district justice secretary position was substantially less than that for night court clerk.

[T]he duties performed by the district justice secretaries were greater than those performed by the night court clerks in terms of ...


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