In the Matter of PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION CONCERNING
EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT BY MS. LUE EDNA MORGAN
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
39 F.C.C.2d 77
RELEASE-NUMBER: FCC 72-1172
DECEMBER 20, 1972
[*77] Mr. HOMER C. FLOYD, Executive Director, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Governor's Office, Human Relations Commission, Post Office Box 3154, Harrisburg, Pa. 17105
DEAR MR. FLOYD: This is in reference to your letters dated May 15, July 27 and August 7, 1972, concerning Stations KQV, WDVE-FM, WEDO, WAMO-AM-FM, WJAS-AM-FM, WTAE-TV, KDKA-AM-FM-TV, WIIC-TV, WQED-TV and WQEX-TV, all of which are located in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.
Your letters pertain to a complaint of employment discrimination filed against each of the above-noted stations by Ms. Lue Edna Morgan, also known as and doing business as Etta Moro Morgan. Ms. Morgan Charges each of the stations with discriminating against her in their hiring practices for such positions as host, producer, announcer and news reporter. Ms. Morgan also charges the stations with otherwise maintaining limited employment opportunities for blacks, women and women age forty and over.
Pursuant to your request the Commission's staff has deferred final action on the renewal applications for the above-noted stations since August 1, 1972. However, based upon our review of the information available, the Commission is of the opinion that it should not continue to defer action on the basis of Ms. Morgan's complaint. As we stated in our 1969 Report and Order, 18 FCC 2d 240, wherein we adopted rules pertaining to non-discrimination in broadcast employment, not every complaint of an isolated action, even if substantial, will warrant deferring action on a renewal application. It has, therefore, been the Commission's practice not to defer action on renewal applications on the basis of a discrimination complaint being investigated by another federal, state, or local agency. Rather, in such cases, the Commission will defer action to the appropriate federal, state, or local agency and, if necessary, take action after that agency has made its final determination.
We would appreciate being notified of any determinations which are made and any action which is taken by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in connection with your current investigations.
[*78] Commissioner Johnson dissenting and issuing a statement, Commissioner Hooks dissenting.
BY DIRECTION OF THE COMMISSION, BEN F. WAPLE, Secretary.
DISSENTING OPINION OF COMMISSIONER NICHOLAS JOHNSON
Today the Federal Communications Commission precludes a state's civil rights commission from filling the void which we euphemistically describe as our "equal employment opportunities program."
Since August 1, 1972, this Commission has deferred action on the renewal applications of numerous broadcast stations in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area. That action was requested by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC), which organization was, and still is, investigating complaints of employment discrimination filed against these stations.
In theory, the FCC has its own procedures for ensuring that our licensees do not engage in discriminatory employment practices. See Nondiscrimination Employment Practices of Broadcast Licensees, 13 FCC 2d 766 (1968); 18 FCC 2d 240 (1969); 23 FCC 2d 430 (1970); Pennsylvania and Delaware Renewals, 36 FCC 2d 515 (1972). However, as I have remarked on prior occasions, see Pennsylvania and Delaware Renewals -- Equal Employment Opportunity Inquiries, FCC 2d (1972), our efforts in this area are, by and large, laughable.
The PHRC has, in essence, offered to do at least part of our job for us. Since the majority is not willing to determine for itself whether its licensees in the Pittsburgh area have engaged in discriminatory employment practices, see, e.g., Pennsylvania and Delaware Renewals -- Equal Employment Opportunity Inquiries, supra, the PHRC has determined to make that effort and, thus, to fill the void which we created.
The majority's reaction to the state agency's gesture is to renew each of the contested licenses. The state has deemed the complaints made against these stations serious enough to warrant both an investigation and a request to this Commission for deferral. The majority, however, literally ignores the state's judgment and pays no heed to traditional notions of comity. It is as if this Commission had renewed several licenses in the face of pending and unresolved petitions to deny those license renewals based on grounds of discriminatory employment practices.
At best, the majority has exhibited considerable disrespect for an important agency of the Pennsylvania state government. At worst, the majority has confirmed once again that it is simply not terribly troubled by the fact that large numbers of our licensees might well be engaging in discriminatory employment practices.