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Bd. of Governors v. Fair Emp. Prac. Com.

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 21, 1979.

THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES FOR CHICAGO STATE UNIVERSITY, PETITIONER,

v.

THE ILLINOIS FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES COMMISSION ET AL., RESPONDENTS. — ROYAL CROWN BOTTLING COMPANY OF CHICAGO, APPELLANT,

v.

THE ILLINOIS FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES COMMISSION ET AL., APPELLEES.



No. 51863. — Original petition for prohibition.

No. 51947. — Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Richard L. Curry, Judge, presiding.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied February 1, 1980.

Ronald Wilder and Bennett L. Epstein, of Aaron, Aaron, Schimberg & Hess, of Chicago, for appellant.

William J. Scott, Attorney General, of Springfield (Russell C. Grimes, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, of Chicago, of counsel), for appellees.

These consolidated cases present the question, first considered by this court in Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Plan Com. v. Fair Employment Practices Com. (1978), 71 Ill.2d 61, whether the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) is empowered to issue a complaint against an employer more than 180 days after the filing of an unfair employment practices charge.

Section 8.01(a) of the Fair Employment Practices Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 48, par. 858.01(a)), prior to its amendment (see Pub. Act 80-1452, effective Sept. 16, 1978; Pub. Act 80-1455, effective Sept. 16, 1978), provided in part:

"Whenever such a charge of an unfair employment practice has been properly filed, the Commission, within 180 days thereof or within any extension of that 180 day period agreed to in writing by all parties and approved by a member of the Commission, shall either issue and serve a complaint in the manner and form set forth in this Section or shall order that no complaint be issued. * * *"

In cause No. 51863, a charge of unfair employment practice was filed with the FEPC on November 30, 1976, alleging that petitioner, the Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities for Chicago State University, wrongfully refused to permit respondent Nahum Zackai to rescind a letter of resignation. On June 22, 1978, more than a year after the expiration of the 180-day statutory period, the FEPC issued a complaint against petitioner seeking reinstatement and back wages. Petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that it was barred by section 8.01(a) of the Act. The hearing officer for the FEPC denied the motion and ordered petitioner to answer the complaint. We allowed petitioner's motions for leave to file a petition for writ of prohibition and to stay the FEPC proceedings. Respondents moved to dismiss, and their motions were taken with the case.

Cause No. 51947 involves a charge filed with the FEPC by Werner Herb on March 22, 1976, alleging that plaintiff, Royal Crown Bottling Company of Chicago, discriminated against him because of a physical handicap. On October 4, 1978, more than two years after the expiration of the 180-day statutory period, the FEPC issued a complaint. Plaintiff's motion to dismiss the complaint was denied by the hearing officer. Plaintiff filed an action in the circuit court of Cook County seeking to enjoin the FEPC from proceeding. The circuit court denied preliminary injunctive relief. Plaintiff appealed to the appellate court, and we allowed its motion for direct appeal (58 Ill.2d R. 302(b)). We also allowed the motion of Werner Herb that he be either added as an indispensable party or allowed to intervene as a party defendant.

We consider first the contention of defendant Herb that plaintiff's request for an injunction should be denied because it had failed to exhaust its administrative remedies and that it had an adequate remedy at law. He argues that the only administrative decision made in this matter is the interlocutory order of the hearing officer denying Royal Crown's motion to dismiss, that the order is not final, and that review of the Commission's final order can be had only under the provisions of the Administrative Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 48, par. 861). Citing a number of authorities (Illinois Bell Telephone Co. v. Allphin (1975), 60 Ill.2d 350; Bulk Terminals Co. v. Environmental Protection Agency (1976), 65 Ill.2d 31; People ex rel. Naughton v. Swank (1974), 58 Ill.2d 95; Chicago Welfare Rights Organization v. Weaver (1973), 56 Ill.2d 33), he argues that "to allow this case to proceed in the courts> would be to allow Royal Crown to circumvent the statutory review procedures provided in the FEPA by the General Assembly."

The authorities cited are clearly distinguishable and apposite here is our holding in Landfill, Inc. v. Pollution Control Board (1978), 74 Ill.2d 541. In that case the plaintiff brought an action seeking a declaratory judgment that a procedural rule of the Board was not authorized under the Environmental Protection Act. In deciding that the plaintiff was not required to exhuast its remedies, we said:

"This court has held that where an administrative rule asserting administrative authority is challenged on its face as not authorized by the enabling legislation, exhaustion is not required. (Bio-Medical Laboratories, Inc. v. Trainor (1977), 68 Ill.2d 540, 548.) Exhaustion is not required where a statute or rule under which an administrative body purports to act is challenged as unauthorized, since the judicial determination will affect the jurisdiction of the administrative body in all matters, not only in the instant circumstances (see Walker v. State Board of Elections (1976), 65 Ill.2d 543, 552).

The purposes for the exhaustion requirement are not served where an administrative assertion of authority to hear or determine certain matters is attacked on its face on the grounds that the assertion of jurisdiction is not authorized by statute. * * * Where an agency's statutory authority to promulgate a rule and exercise jurisdiction is in issue, no questions of fact are involved. The agency's particular expertise is not implicated in statutory construction. Further, there is virtually ...


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