there is reason to believe that an unlawful discriminatory practice has been committed. . . ." Id. at § 959(b)(1) (emphasis added). Pennsylvania's General Assembly thus intended that a filing with a local human relations commission would result in an investigation by the state agency.
Kedra filed her complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations in September of 1992. The Pa.HRC did not conduct an investigation because PhilaCHR did not notify it of Kedra's complaint. PhilaCHR did, however, conduct its own investigation and found Kedra's "Charge Not Substantiated."
Prior to 1991, the Act did not provide for a local commission's investigation in lieu of an investigation by the Pa.HRC. The General Assembly may have been concerned about the expertise, or lack of it, of local commissions in the employment discrimination field. See, e.g., Clay v. Advanced Computer Applications, 522 Pa. 86, 559 A.2d 917, 919 (Pa. 1989)(legislature intended Pa.HRC to bring greater expertise and efficiency than courts in handling discrimination cases); Commonwealth, Human Relations Commission v. Feeser, 469 Pa. 173, 364 A.2d 1324, 1327 n.10 (Pa. 1976)(Pa.HRC possesses particular expertise in the area of unlawful discrimination that courts do not possess); Lukus v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 276 Pa. Super. 232, 419 A.2d 431, 455 (Pa.Super. 1980)(same). In 1991, however, the Pennsylvania General Assembly recognized that local commissions do possess sufficient expertise to investigate employment discrimination complaints when it amended § 957(n) to allow the Pa.HRC, at its discretion, to enter into worksharing agreements with local commissions. 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 957(n) (Purdons Supp. 1993).
The EEOC also recognizes the expertise of PhilaCHR, and has agreed to accord "substantial weight to the [PhilaCHR] final finding and order." See Worksharing Agreement Between PhilaCHR and EEOC for Fiscal Year 1994, at § V, P B. It is undisputed that the EEOC had a similar agreement with PhilaCHR in 1992, the time Kedra's complaint was filed and investigated.
In view of the Philadelphia agency's statutory obligation to notify Pa.HRC of complaints filed with it, and the Pa.HRC's statutory obligation to investigate those reported complaints, as well as the recognition of both the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the EEOC that local commissions do have sufficient expertise to investigate complaints of employment discrimination as defined by the Act, we believe that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, if today presented with the issue, would hold that a filing with the PhilaCHR constitutes actual and sufficient compliance with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
See, e.g., Davis v. United States Steel Supply, Div. of United States Steel Corp., 581 F.2d 335, 339 (3d Cir. 1978)(filing with Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission sufficient to maintain private cause of action for violation of PHRA); Lyon v. Temple Univ. of the Commonwealth Sys. of Higher Educ., 543 F. Supp. 1372, 1377 (E.D.Pa. 1982)(state or local administrative action by plaintiffs sufficient to exhaust administrative remedies under PHRA); Jackson v. Good Lad Co., Inc., 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5344, No. 93-2362, 1994 WL 156930, at *8 n.4 (E.D.Pa. April 28, 1994) (filing with PhilaCHR may serve to exhaust administrative remedies under the PHRA)(dictum).
The Philadelphia Commission's failure to notify the Pennsylvania agency should not bar Kedra from reaching the merits of her state claims in this Court. To allow the Philadelphia agency's omission to prevent a complainant's resort to the courts would in our view be inconsistent with the General Assembly's imposition of the notification duty on the local body, not on the complainant. We therefore find that Kedra sufficiently complied with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act by filing her complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, and thus may be deemed to have exhausted her administrative remedies under the PHRA.
Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment as to Counts II and IV of the Amended Complaint will be denied. An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this 7th day of July, 1994, upon consideration of defendant's motion for partial summary judgment and plaintiff's response thereto, as well as of the other, related filings by the parties, it is hereby ORDERED that, for the reasons stated in the foregoing Memorandum, defendant's motion for partial summary judgment is DENIED.
BY THE COURT:
Stewart Dalzell, J.