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Burnham City Hosp. v. Human Rts. Com.

OPINION FILED AUGUST 13, 1984.

BURNHAM CITY HOSPITAL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. George S. Miller, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Discrimination?

Administrative law judge said yes.

Human Rights Commission said yes.

Circuit court said no.

We affirm.

On September 18, 1979, defendant, Walter S. Clifton, Jr., filed a complaint with the Illinois Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) against plaintiff, Burnham City Hospital of Champaign (Burnham). He alleged a violation of section 3(a) of the Fair Employment Practices Act, which then stated:

"It is an unfair employment practice:

(a) For any employer, because of the race * * * of an individual * * *, to refuse to hire, to segregate, or otherwise to discriminate against such individual with respect to hire, selection and training for apprenticeship in any trade or craft, tenure, terms or conditions of employment." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 48, par. 853(a).)

Shortly thereafter, that Act was repealed and replaced by the Illinois Human Rights Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 981, ch. 68, par. 1-101 et seq.), which comprehensively treats various types of discrimination and provides for a Human Rights Commission (HRC) whose function includes those previously performed by the FEPC. The legislation provided for the HRC to proceed with cases pending before the FEPC. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 68, par. 9-102.

Prior to its termination, the FEPC filed a formal complaint against Burnham on June 10, 1980, charging it with a violation of section 3(a) of the Fair Employment Practices Act because it refused to hire Clifton, a black male, as a pharmacy technician while hiring a less qualified white person. The case was heard on August 26 and 27, 1980, before an HRC administrative law judge who issued an opinion and recommended order on October 13, 1981. He found the charges to have been sustained. On January 8, 1982, the HRC approved the administrative law judge's report and entered the recommended order which included among its requirements that Burnham (1) make Clifton whole for lost wages he may have suffered, (2) cease and desist from such discrimination, and (3) report to the HRC within 45 days as to the steps it had taken in compliance.

Burnham appealed to the circuit court of Champaign County for administrative review. That court reversed the order of the HRC which, together with Clifton, has in turn appealed to this court. We affirm the circuit court.

In dealing with the allocation of burdens of proof and persuasion in cases where discrimination in employment is charged, the appellate court of this State has drawn an analogy to the procedures used in cases under the Federal Civil Rights Act. (42 U.S.C. § 2000e (1982); see McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green (1973), 411 U.S. 792, 36 L. Ed 2d 668, 93 S.Ct. 1817.) We did so in Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Plan Com. v. Fair Employment Practices Com. (1976), 45 Ill. App.3d 116, 359 N.E.2d 174, rev'd in part on other grounds (1978), 71 Ill.2d 61, 373 N.E.2d 1307, as did the Fifth District in City of Cairo v. Fair Employment Practices Com. (1974), 21 Ill. App.3d 358, 315 N.E.2d 344. The First District gave full application to the Federal procedure in A.P. Green Services Division of Bigelow-Liptak Corp. v. Fair Employment Practices Com. (1974), 19 Ill. App.3d 875, 312 N.E.2d 314.

The Federal cases on employment discrimination have proceeded on theories of (1) disparate treatment, which requires proof of a discriminating motive by the employer (United States Postal Service Board of Governors v. Aikens (1983), 460 U.S. 711, 75 L.Ed.2d 403, 103 S.Ct. 1478), and (2) disparate impact, which involves employment practices which, without justified business necessity, fall more heavily on minority groups. (International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States (1977), 431 U.S. 324, 52 L.Ed.2d 396, 97 S.Ct. 1843; Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971), 401 U.S. 424, 28 L.Ed.2d 158, 91 S.Ct. 849.) In the case before us, the HRC found discrimination to have been proved under both theories.

• 1, 2 By the terms of section 8-107(E)(2) of the Illinois Human Rights Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 68, par. 8-107(E)(2)), the HRC is required to adopt the findings of fact of the administrative law judge unless they are contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. That occurs when a contrary result is clearly evident. (Clark Oil & Refining Corp. v. Golden (1983), 114 Ill. App.3d 300, 448 N.E.2d 958.) Similarly, when tested on administrative review, a decision of the FEPC could not be overturned by a reviewing court on the basis of the sufficiency of the proof, unless that decision was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. (Eastman Kodak Co. v. Fair Employment Practices Com. (1981), 86 Ill.2d 60, 426 N.E.2d 877.) This is the standard for most cases of administrative review and would logically be applied to review of decisions of the HRC. We apply that standard here.

I

Under the disparate treatment theory, proof of discriminatory motive is critical, although it may be inferred in some situations from differences in treatment. (International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States (1977), 431 U.S. 324, 335 n. 15, 52 L.Ed.2d 396, 415 n. 15, 97 S.Ct. 1843, 1854 n. 15.) The method applied in such cases was described in A.P. Green Services Division:

"The allocation of the burden of proof in an action challenging employment discrimination was well established in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 36 L. Ed 2d 668, 677, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 1824 (1973). The Supreme Court in referring to the prima ...


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