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JOHNSTOWN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/22/89)

decided: March 22, 1989.

JOHNSTOWN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in the case of Eula L. Morris v. Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, Docket No. E-25389D.

COUNSEL

William W. Barbin, Solicitor, for petitioner.

Theresa Homisak, Counsel, with her, Francine Ostrovsky, Assistant Chief Counsel, and Elisabeth S. Shuster, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Craig and McGinley, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge McGinley. Judge MacPhail did not participate in the decision in this case. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Mcginley

[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 345]

Johnstown Redevelopment Authority (Authority) appeals an order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission) which ordered the Authority to cease discrimination on the basis of race and to pay Eula Morris (Morris) a lump sum of $22,265.98 plus interest.

On April 25, 1983, Morris, a 53 year old black female, filed a complaint against the Authority alleging that the Authority violated Section 5(a) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (Act),*fn1 by refusing to hire her because of her race. The complaint was investigated by the Commission and a probable cause finding was made. Thereafter, attempts to amicably resolve the matter were unsuccessful. On February 18, 1987, the hearing examiner conducted a public hearing and subsequently recommended a decision in favor of Morris concluding that Morris had presented a prima facie case of disparate treatment discrimination which the Authority failed to properly rebut. The Commission adopted the findings, conclusions, opinion and recommendation of the hearing examiner and entered a final order directing the Authority to cease and desist from discriminating on the basis of race and to pay $22,265.98 plus interest to Morris as back pay. The Authority now appeals to our Court.

[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 346]

The Commission made the following pertinent Findings of Fact:

3. For the 3 year period between 1977 to 1980, the Complainant worked as a Secretary for a local church with such duties as answering phones, maintaining financial records, recording meetings, typing stencils and running a mimeograph machine. (N.T. 11)

4. From December 23, 1980 to July 27, 1981, the Complainant worked as a Secretary for a flood relief project called the Rifle Program where she primarily processed claims for reimbursement for flood damages. (N.T. 12)

5. In July 1981, the Complainant applied and was hired for a Clerk/Typist position with the Respondent. (N.T. 12, 14; C.E. 1)

6. The Complainant's general duties remained the same as the duties she performed when employed with the Rifle Program. (N.T. 13)

7. Although the Complainant's primary job responsibility remained processing flood damage claims, at some point during the Complainant's employment, she was required to assist the Respondent's switchboard operator. (N.T. 13)

8. Between December 1981, and August 1982, the Complainant and other secretaries took turns operating the switchboard when the switchboard operator was either off or at lunch. (N.T. 15, 28)

9. While employed by the Respondent, the Complainant received no complaints regarding her work, instead she was complimented. (N.T. 16)

10. On August 3, 1982, the Complainant was laid off. (N.T. 17)

[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 34711]

. On February 21, 23, and 25, 1983, the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat published a notice announcing that the Respondent would be distributing applications for the position of Switchboard Operator/Typist. (C.E. 6)

12. The newspaper announcement listed the qualifications for Switchboard operator Typist as: high school graduate or equivalent, one year experience as office clerical/recorder, switchboard exper- [sic] and typing of at least 40 words per minutes. [sic] (C.E. 6)

13. Shorthand ability was not a qualification requirement for [sic] the position. (N.T. 44, 49)

14. The Respondent's governing body was composed for five board members. (C.E. 5)

15. At a regularly scheduled meeting of the board, board member Gentile asked if prior employees had been contacted regarding the Switchboard Operator/Typist opening. (N.T. 42)

16. Despite board member Gentile's concern, the Respondent simply accepted applications from anyone, thereby providing former employees with no special advantage. (N.T. 42)

17. On March 1, 1983, the Complainant submitted an application for the Switchboard Operator/Typist position. (C.E. 4)

18. The Respondent received 43 applications for the position of Switchboard Operator/Typist: Thirty-seven applicants were White, six were Black. (N.T. 98)

19. The Respondent's Executive Director, Ronald Repak; the Administration Manager, Nancy Herald; and the Comptroller, William Meske, collectively

[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 348]

    reviewed the 43 applications and recommended that four applicants be ...


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