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BLAIR v. PHILADELPHIA HOUS. AUTH.

May 23, 1985

HENRY BLAIR
v.
PHILADELPHIA HOUSING AUTHORITY



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHAPIRO

NORMA L. SHAPIRO, J.

 FINDINGS OF FACT and CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

 Plaintiff, Henry Blair, brings this civil rights action against his former employer, the Philadelphia Housing Authority ("PHA"), under §§ 1981 and 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. Plaintiff, an adult Black male, claims damages for wrongful termination of employment and failure to rehire because of defendant's alleged racially discriminatory practices and policies. This matter was heard by the court sitting without a jury. Upon consideration of the evidence and the arguments and submissions of counsel, the court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. PHA is a corporate and political body, created and operating under the Pennsylvania Housing Authorities Law of May 28, 1937, P.L. 955, as amended, 35 P.S. § 1541 et seq.

 2. PHA is an employer within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b); it is engaged in an industry affecting commerce and employs 15 or more persons.

 3. Plaintiff was first employed by PHA in 1971 as a laborer.

 4. Plaintiff was promoted to the position of maintenance aide in 1975, which position he held until his termination in 1980. However, he was earning mechanics pay. He worked in the Scattered Sites Department at the time of the relevant events.

 5. On or about May 14, 1980, plaintiff was with his co-worker, Stanley Spratley. Their job was to repair water meters in PHA residences. They were not authorized to go into any unit without a work slip ("Service Request"). They entered a non-PHA residence at 1919 North 19th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for which they did not have a work slip and detached a water meter. The tenant of the residence witnessed the incident and reported it to PHA; the supervisor believed she had told them it was not a PHA unit. Plaintiff claimed he was asked to enter to repair the meter and so took off the meter, but then left it there because it was not a PHA house.

 6. Plaintiff consistently said Spratley did not enter the house with him. Blair and Spratley originally admitted to Superintendent Mascantonio the meter was taken from 1919 North 19th Street and sold for scrap but consistently denied removing meters from other units. The credible evidence supports the PHA position that Blair detached and removed the meter without authority, that Spratley was with him but less involved and that Blair replaced the meter probably on May 18 but certainly before May 23, 1980.

 7. Plaintiff and co-worker Spratley, both Black, were fired on June 6, 1980 for stealing a water meter from a non-PHA home in order to sell it for scrap.

 8. The PHA disciplinary guidelines are set out in the Standard Guide of Disciplinary Penalties, P-2. Suspension or discharge, as determined by the severity of the offense, is the appropriate discipline for destruction, abuse or misuse of PHA property; actual or attempted theft of PHA property; use of PHA authority, equipment, tools, vehicles for personal gain; or intentional misstatement or concealment of material fact in connection with employment, or any investigation, inquiry or other proceeding.

 9. PHA employment was governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement entered into by PHA and Local 332, Building and Construction Trades Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity, of which plaintiff was a member.

 10. Plaintiff's termination was preceded by an investigation by PHA and a grievance hearing held in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Plaintiff and his Union representative were present at the hearing and presented evidence.

 11. As a result of the evidence presented at the hearing, PHA's Personnel Director William A. Gaughan, sustained plaintiff's termination.

 12. The Collective Bargaining Agreement contained a grievance procedure in paragraph 10(j) with arbitration the fourth and final step if the grievance were not satisfactorily adjusted; either party to the contract might submit the case to arbitration. Paragraph 18 provided that if any dispute or grievance of an employee covered by the Agreement ...


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