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08/09/89 Linda Sue Pace, v. the Human Rights

August 9, 1989

LINDA SUE PACE, PETITIONER

v.

THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION ET AL., RESPONDENTS

SECTION 7-102OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT (ILL. RE

v.

STAT. 1987, CH. 68, PAR. 7-102) PROVIDES:



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT

542 N.E.2d 1277, 187 Ill. App. 3d 16, 134 Ill. Dec. 770 1989.IL.1226

Petition for review of order of Human Rights Commission.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE HARRISON delivered the opinion of the court. LEWIS and CHAPMAN, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE HARRISON

Petitioner, Linda Sue Pace, appeals to this court pursuant to section 8-111of the Illinois Human Rights Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 68, par. 8-111) from an order of the Illinois Human Rights Commission (the Commission) which dismissed, with prejudice, a complaint which she had filed against respondent Lockhaven Country Club alleging that she had been harassed and constructively discharged from her employment based on her sex. The sole basis for the Commission's dismissal order was that petitioner's complaint was untimely under section 7-102(2) of the Human Rights Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 68, par. 7-102(2)) because it was not filed within 30 days of the expiration of the 300-day period following the initial filing of her charge of a civil rights violation with the Department of Human Rights.

On this appeal, petitioner argues that the Commission should not have invoked the 30-day filing requirement to bar her complaint because that requirement is so burdensome and restrictive that it violates section 17 of article I of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 17) and deprives her of due process of law in violation of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution (U.S. Const., amend. XIV). For the reasons which follow, we affirm.

The facts necessary to the Disposition of this appeal are not in dispute. On September 8, 1986, petitioner filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights pursuant to section 7-102 of the Human Rights Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 68, par. 7-102). In that charge, petitioner alleged that she was harassed and constructively discharged from her job as a "Secretary/Accounts Payable" by respondent Lockhaven Country Club based upon her gender. Approximately one year after this charge was filed, petitioner submitted a written request to the Department of Human Rights asking that the charge be withdrawn. That request was granted, and petitioner's charge was dismissed by the Department in an order entered on October 5, 1987.

On December 26, 1987, more than 2 1/2 months later, petitioner filed a civil rights complaint directly with the Human Rights Commission. Respondent Lockhaven Country Club then moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that it did not comply with the time requirements set forth in section 7-102(2) of the Human Rights Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 68, par. 7-102(2)). Following arguments by the parties, an administrative law Judge recommended that respondent's motion be granted. The Commission adopted this recommendation, and on June 28, 1988, it issued an order dismissing petitioner's complaint with prejudice. From this order petitioner now appeals.

"(1) When a charge of a civil rights violation has been properly filed, the Department, within 300 days thereof or within any extension of that period agreed to in writing by all parties, shall either issue and file a complaint in the manner and form set forth in this Section or shall order that no complaint be issued. Any such order shall be duly served upon both the complainant and the respondent.

(2) Within 30 days of the expiration of the 300-day period or such longer period as shall have been agreed upon pursuant to subparagraph (1), the aggrieved party may file a complaint with the Commission, if the Department has not sooner filed a complaint or ordered that no complaint be issued. The form of the complaint shall be in accordance with the provisions of paragraph . The aggrieved party shall notify the Department that a complaint has been filed and shall serve a copy of the complaint on the Department on the same date that the complaint is filed with the Commission. Upon such notice, the Department shall cease processing the charge.

(3) Unless and until the aggrieved party files a complaint with the Human Rights Commission pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Department shall continue its investigation and conclude it with the greatest promptness that is administratively feasible."

On this appeal, petitioner does not dispute that her complaint with the Commission was not filed within 30 days of the expiration of the 300-day period following the initial filing of the charge of a civil rights violation with the Department, as provided in section 7-102(2) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 68, par. 7-102(2)). (Her complaint was not, in fact, filed until 475 days after the filing of her initial charge.) Petitioner claims, however, that the 30-day period is so short that it violates her rights under section 17 of article I of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 17) and deprives her of due process of law in violation of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution (U.S. Const., amend. XIV). Accordingly, she reasons that the 30-day period should not be permitted to stand as a bar to her complaint.

A threshold problem with petitioner's position is that she withdrew her charge with the Department prior to filing her complaint with the Commission. As the text of section 7-102of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 68, par. 7-102) indicates, however, the right of an aggrieved party to file a complaint directly with the Commission presupposes that a charge is pending before the Department. There can be no dispute, for example, that if no charge has been filed with the Department, then section 7-102does not even come into play. Likewise, it would appear that if a charge has been filed and then dropped by the aggrieved party, the provisions of section 7-102cease to apply. Once this has happened, the aggrieved party will never be entitled to file a complaint with the Commission under authority of section 7-102(2). Accordingly, whether petitioner here filed her ...


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