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Dahman v. Illinois Department of Human Rights

October 18, 2002

BRENDA DAHMAN, PETITIONER,
v.
THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS; THE SECRETARY OF STATE; AND JACKIE LUSTIG, CHIEF LEGAL COUNSEL, RESPONDENTS.



Administrative Review of the Illinois Department of Human Rights No. 00SF0664.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Appleton

Petitioner, Brenda Dahman, seeks direct administrative review of the decision of the chief legal counsel of the Illinois Department of Human Rights (Department) sustaining the Department's dismissal of petitioner's charge of sexual harassment against James McCaslin for lack of substantial evidence. Petitioner seeks review pursuant to section 8-111(A)(1) of the Illinois Human Rights Act (Human Rights Act) (775 ILCS 5/8-111(A)(1) (West 2000)) and Supreme Court Rule 335 (155 Ill. 2d R. 335). Respondents moved to dismiss the petition for direct review due to petitioner's failure to name McCaslin, a party of record in the administrative proceedings, as a respondent. For the reasons set forth below, we dismiss the petition for review.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 19, 2000, petitioner filed a charge of discrimination with the Department against her employer, the Illinois Secretary of State, and James McCaslin, a fellow employee, alleging that between April 11 and April 13, 2000, McCaslin sexually harassed her. On January 5, 2001, following its investigation, the Department dismissed petitioner's charge for lack of substantial evidence. Petitioner requested review by the Department's chief legal counsel. On June 29, 2001, the chief legal counsel issued an order sustaining the Department's dismissal of the charge. This appeal followed.

II. ANALYSIS

On August 3, 2001, petitioner filed a petition for direct review with this court. Pursuant to section 8-111(A)(1) of the Human Rights Act (775 ILCS 5/8-111(A)(1) (West 2000)) and Supreme Court Rule 335 (155 Ill. 2d R. 335), we have jurisdiction over this matter. However, petitioner failed to name McCaslin in the petition for review, joining only the Department, chief legal counsel, and the Secretary of State as respondents.

On November 20, 2001, respondents moved to dismiss the petition due to petitioner's failure to name McCaslin, a necessary party, as a respondent. Respondents' motion alleged that petitioner's failure to name McCaslin as a respondent in her petition for review was a fatal defect. We agree.

Section 8-111(A)(1) of the Human Rights Act (775 ILCS 5/ 8-111(A)(1) (West 2000)) provides that a complainant may obtain judicial review of any final order entered under the Human Rights Act by filing a petition for review in the appellate court. Both Supreme Court Rule 335 (155 Ill. 2d R. 335) and section 3-113(b) of the Administrative Review Law (Review Law) (735 ILCS 5/3-113(b) (West 2000)) govern statutory direct review of administrative orders by the appellate court and each provides that "[t]he agency and all other parties of record shall be named respondents" in the petition for review. It is undisputed that McCaslin was a party of record.

Our supreme court has held that administrative review actions taken directly to the appellate court involve the exercise of "special statutory jurisdiction." McGaughy v. Illinois Human Rights Comm'n, 165 Ill. 2d 1, 6-7, 649 N.E.2d 404, 407 (1995). When a court is exercising special statutory jurisdiction, the language of the act conferring jurisdiction delimits the court's power to hear the case. A party seeking to invoke special statutory jurisdiction thus "must strictly adhere to the prescribed procedures" in the statute. McGaughy, 165 Ill. 2d at 12, 649 N.E.2d at 410. Accordingly, absent strict compliance with the Human Rights Act, the provisions of the Review Law, and the rules adopted pursuant thereto, the appellate court cannot consider the appeal. ESG Watts, Inc. v. Pollution Control Board, 191 Ill. 2d 26, 31, 727 N.E.2d 1022, 1025 (2000).

This case presents a factual scenario similar to that present in McGaughy in which the supreme court held that dismissal was required for noncompliance with Rule 335. The petitioner, Barbara McGaughy, filed a charge with the Department in which she alleged that her employer had discriminated against her. The Department dismissed the charge for lack of substantial evidence. McGaughy filed a request for review with the Illinois Human Rights Commission (Commission), which affirmed the dismissal. McGaughy then filed a petition for review in the appellate court. She named as respondents only the Commission and her employer, failing to name the Department. The appellate court held that this failure did not deprive it of jurisdiction and reached the merits of the appeal. The supreme court reversed, vacating the appellate court's judgment and dismissing the appeal because of McGaughy's failure to name the Department, a party of record, as a respondent in her petition for review. McGaughy, 165 Ill. 2d at 15, 649 N.E.2d at 411.

Section 3-113(b) of the Review Law and Supreme Court Rule 335 explicitly direct that, in a petition for review in the appellate court, "[t]he agency and all other parties of record shall be named respondents." 735 ILCS 5/3-113(b) (West 2000); 155 Ill. 2d R. 335(a). This language is clear and unambiguous. Therefore, a party seeking administrative review must strictly comply with the statutes conferring jurisdiction and, because the statutes require that all parties of record be named, failure to do so justifies dismissal. ESG Watts, 191 Ill. 2d at 36, 727 N.E.2d at 1028.

Petitioner argues that the line of cases that supports dismissal of a petition for review for failing to name all parties of record predates the amendment to section 3-107(a) of the Review Law (735 ILCS 5/3-107(a) (West 2000)), which precludes dismissal of the petition even if an individual employee or agent acting in his official capacity on behalf of the agency is not named as long as the agency itself is named as a respondent. Petitioner's argument is without merit. Section 3-107(a) applies only to administrative review actions in the circuit court and, thus, is not applicable here. McGaughy, 165 Ill. 2d at 8, 649 N.E.2d at 408.

Because strict adherence to the procedures of the Review Law and the supreme court rules is required and because petitioner failed to comply with the same, we conclude petitioner's failure to name McCaslin, a party of record, as a respondent is a ...


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