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03/01/88 Charles Larrance, v. the Human Rights

March 1, 1988





519 N.E.2d 1203, 166 Ill. App. 3d 224, 117 Ill. Dec. 36 1988.IL.279

Petition for review of order of Human Rights Commission.


JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. GREEN, P.J., and LUND, J., concur.


Petitioner appeals an order of the Illinois Human Rights Commission (Commission) which dismissed his complaint. The Commission found it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the cause. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 68, par. 7-102(1).) Petitioner argues: (1) the Commission erred in retroactively applying Board of Governors v. Rothbardt (1981), 98 Ill. App. 3d 423, 424 N.E.2d 742; (2) principles of equitable tolling apply in the instant cause; (3) petitioner's formal charge should be found to relate back to his complainant information sheet so as to create a timely charge; and (4) dismissal of petitioner's cause of action because of a State procedure denied him due process.

We affirm.

Petitioner filed his employment-discrimination charge on November 15, 1979. The administrative law Judge found for petitioner. On October 27, 1982, respondents filed exceptions to the recommended order and decision, arguing lack of jurisdiction. Petitioner filed a motion to produce additional information. On January 7, 1982, the Commission denied petitioner's motion but on its own motion, remanded for a hearing on the circumstances surrounding the filing. Respondents filed suit in the circuit court to prohibit the hearing on remand. The circuit court ruled the Commission could order an additional hearing. On appeal, this court, in Country Casualty Insurance Co. v. Human Rights Comm'n (1984), 127 Ill. App. 3d 1170 (order under Supreme Court Rule 23), affirmed the circuit court. The facts relevant to the instant appeal stem from information obtained at the supplemental hearing.

Petitioner had been hired by respondents, Country Casualty Insurance Company, Country Insurance Company, Country Mutual Insurance Company, Country Life Insurance Company, and Country Capital Management Company (Country Companies) in 1956. In 1962, he was made agency manager in Macon County. On April 30, 1979, petitioner received a letter telling him his employment would be terminated, effective May 31, 1979.

On July 9, 1979, petitioner contacted the Fair Employment Practices Commission in Springfield. Petitioner testified that he had not talked to an attorney at that time. He completed a form entitled "Complainant Information Sheet." On that form, he indicated his termination was due to a heart attack which occurred in 1976. The only document he brought to the meeting was the termination letter. Petitioner stated that he told the intake representative that the name of his employer was Country Companies. George Crawford, the intake representative, told petitioner that he had until the end of November to file a formal charge. Petitioner never calculated the last day on which he could file the charge.

Petitioner further testified that Crawford took notes and raised a question about whether petitioner could file a charge. Crawford indicated the FEPC would decide whether or not to accept the charge. Crawford needed to discuss the matter with his superiors and would contact petitioner. Crawford did not ask for additional information on July 9, 1979.

Petitioner stated Crawford gave him a brochure on July 9, 1979, and he looked at it. Between July 9, and October 29, 1979, petitioner called the FEPC office to check on the status of his cause. On October 29, 1979, the FEPC contacted him to ask for his employment contracts. He brought them in the same day. On October 31, 1979, he met with Crawford. They discussed his heart attack. After he brought in his employment contracts, the individual companies were charged separately.

On November 15, 1979, petitioner signed a formal complaint. No one indicated a timeliness problem. Petitioner stated that although he met with an attorney concerning renewal income from Country Companies to which he felt entitled, he and his attorney did not discuss his employment discrimination action. He would have signed a charge on July 9, 1979, if he had been given one.

On cross-examination, petitioner agreed that the CIS form states it is not a legal charge. On October 4, 1979, his attorney drafted a letter seeking commissions. In the letter, counsel states that if the additional commission is not forthcoming, the employment discrimination action ...

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