Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon.
Simon L. Friedman, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE WEBBER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiff, Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities (Board), filed in the circuit court of Sangamon County a petition for a writ of prohibition, seeking to prevent the defendants, Illinois Human Rights Commission (Commission) and certain of its administrative law judges, from proceeding with charges alleging unfair employment practices which had been filed by several employees of the Board. The circuit court denied the petition and this appeal followed. We affirm the denial.
The proceedings prior to entry into the circuit court straddled a change in the law and this adds some complexity to the case. Therefore, a brief explanation is in order. The Fair Employment Practices Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 48, pars. 851 through 867) remained in effect until July 1, 1980, when the Human Rights Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 68, par. 1-101 et seq.) replaced it and several other laws not involved in this case. The former Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), the Department of Equal Employment Opportunity, and the Human Relations Commission were supplanted by two new agencies, the Department of Human Rights (DHR) and the Human Rights Commission (HRC). Any matter pending before the former agencies was to be "assumed by the Department or Commission, as provided in this Act, at the same stage, or a parallel stage, of proceeding to which it had progressed prior to the effective date of this Act." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 68, par. 9-102(A).
The events prior to the circuit court proceedings were submitted on a stipulation of facts. From it, it appears that defendant Price filed an unfair employment practice charge with the FEPC on November 9, 1979. An investigator conducted a fact-finding conference and wrote a report recommending that the charge be dismissed for lack of substantial evidence. FEPC sent Price a notice of dismissal of his charge on June 6, 1980. Under FEPC rules he was entitled to reconsideration and he made such a request on June 16, 1980. This request was pending when the Human Rights Act became effective on July 1, 1980. HRC treated it as a request for review as such step is known under the Human Rights Act.
The review process is outlined by statutory provisions and by rules promulgated by HRC. The statutes provide:
"Sec. 8-102. Powers and duties. In addition to other powers and duties prescribed in this Act, the Commission shall have the following powers:
(G) Decisions. Through a panel of three members designated by the Chairperson on a random basis, to hear and decide by majority vote requests for review and complaints filed in conformity with this Act and to approve proposed settlements.
"Sec. 8-103. Request for Review. (A) Jurisdiction. The Commission, through a panel of three members, shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine requests for review of (1) decisions of the Department to dismiss a charge; and (2) notices of default issued by the Department.
In each instance, the Department shall be the respondent.
(B) Review. When a request for review is properly filed, the Commission may consider the Department's report, any argument and supplemental evidence timely submitted, and the results of any additional investigation conducted by the Department in response to the request. In its discretion, the Commission may designate a hearing officer to conduct a hearing into the factual basis of the matter at issue." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 68, pars. 8-102, 8-103.
The pertinent portion of the rules of HRC relating to review is:
"Section 4.1. Filing with Commission — A party may request review by the Commission of a decision by the Department to dismiss or default, by filing a request therefor with the Commission at its Chicago office within thirty (30) days of receipt of the Department's notice of its decision. Such request may be accompanied by argument and supporting materials.
Section 4.2. Notice by Commission — The Commission shall notify the Department and other parties to the charge of the filing of a timely request for review. Notice to the Department shall be accompanied by a copy of the request. Only the Department and the party requesting review shall participate in any proceedings under this Article.
Section 4.3. Response by Department — Within thirty (30) days of receipt of the Commission's notice of the filing of a request for review, the Department shall file a response with the Commission, serving a copy at the same time on the party filing the request. If the Department opposes the request, its response shall consist of a copy of the charge and any amendments thereto, the Department's investigation report, the results of any additional investigation conducted by the Department and a statement of the Department's position, including proposed ...