Indiana Dept. of Correction v. Indiana Civil Rights Com'n, 1-1284A299

Citation486 N.E.2d 612
Case DateDecember 19, 1985
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Page 612

486 N.E.2d 612
Commissioner, Indiana Department of Correction,
Indiana Reformatory, and Norman Owens,
No. 1-1284A299.
Court of Appeals of Indiana,
First District.
Dec. 19, 1985.

Page 614

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., David Steiner, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for petitioners-appellants.

Michael C. Healy, Indianapolis, for respondents-appellees.

RATLIFF, Presiding Judge.


The Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) appeals from a judgment entered in the Hendricks Circuit Court affirming the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order rendered by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) in favor of Dr. Judith A. Samuelson. The ICRC found that the DOC unlawfully discriminated against Dr. Samuelson on the basis of her sex and ordered the DOC to offer her the Director of Education position when the next vacancy occurred. We affirm.


The DOC operates several correctional institutions throughout the state including the Indiana Reformatory. Located near Pendleton, Indiana, the Reformatory is a maximum security institution for adult male felons. As late as January 1982, it housed nearly 2,000 inmates. See French v. Owens (S.D.Ind.1982), 538 F.Supp. 910. 1 By and large these inmates are kept in the Reformatory's general population regardless of their criminal history.

In July 1979, the DOC sought applications for the Director of Education and Assistant Director of Education positions at the Reformatory. The director supervises the entire education program at the Reformatory. His other duties include establishment of curriculum, assignment of teachers, preparation of budgets, formulation of federal grant proposals, and counseling of individual student-inmates. The assistant director generally aids the director in the performance of these duties. In addition, the assistant director is directly responsible for the day to day operation of the Reformatory's school which serves 300 to 350 student-inmates at any one time. The only qualification listed by the DOC for these positions was a secondary school administrator's license. Additionally, three to five years of teaching experience was listed as "highly desirable."

In response to its request, the DOC received 31 applications. The DOC selected ten of these applicants for interviews including Dr. Samuelson. Following the interviews, the DOC offered the positions to two men. 2 Both Donald Hipes, who was appointed to the director's position, and Donald Fishback, who was appointed to the position of assistant director, were described by the interview committee members as "tough guys" or "real hard cookies" who would "kick ass" and get the job done. Dr. Samuelson, on the other hand, was viewed as too positive as if she were "trying to sell a necktie." Finding of Fact No. 26, Record at 53. Clearly, each of these applicants possessed qualifications in excess of those required by the DOC for both positions.

On October 22, 1979, Dr. Samuelson filed a complaint with the ICRC alleging that the DOC had engaged in sex-based employment discrimination when filling the director's and assistant director's positions. Following an administrative hearing, the hearing officer entered extensive findings of fact and conclusions of law. In addition, he recommended that the ICRC adopt an order requiring, in part, that the DOC offer Dr. Samuelson the director's position when it next became vacant. On December 17,

Page 615

1981, the ICRC did in fact adopt the hearing officer's Recommended Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order.

Subsequently, the DOC sought judicial review pursuant to Indiana Code section 4-22-1-14. On March 28, 1983, the Hendricks Circuit Court entered an order affirming the ICRC's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order. Upon appeal from that judgment, this court, in a memorandum decision, reversed and remanded to the trial court for the entry of specific findings of fact and conclusions of law. Indiana Department of Correction v. Indiana Civil Rights Commission (1984), 464 N.E.2d 29. The trial court subsequently complied with that decision. The DOC now appeals from that judgment.


The parties' appellate arguments essentially raise four issues which require our attention. Those issues are:

1. Whether the Findings and Conclusions entered by the Hendricks Circuit Court are sufficient to permit intelligent appellate review by this court.

2. Whether the determination of the ICRC that the DOC had engaged in unlawful gender-based employment discrimination is contrary to law, unsupported by the findings, or unsupported by evidence in the record of administrative proceedings.

3. Whether the DOC established a valid bona fide occupational qualification of being male for both the director's and assistant director's positions.

4. Whether the remedy ordered by the ICRC exceeded the commission's statutorily delegated authority.


Issue One

The DOC first asserts that the Findings and Conclusions entered by the Hendricks Circuit Court on remand are clearly inadequate requiring this court to once again reverse and remand to the trial court. 3 Indiana's Administrative Adjudication Act requires the trial court to enter written findings of fact when reviewing administrative agency determinations. Indiana Code section 4-22-1-18 (Burns Supp.1985) states in part:

"(2) Said court in affirming or setting aside the decision or determination of the agency shall enter its written findings of facts, which may be informal but which shall encompass the relevant facts shown by the record, and enter of record its written decision and order or judgment."

Our trial rules also require the entry of specific findings in these circumstances. Indiana Rules of Procedure, Trial Rule 52(A)(2). The purpose behind this requirement is abundantly clear. Special findings provide both the parties and the reviewing court with the theory or theories upon which the lower court relied, thus facilitating appellate review. Town of Rome City v. King (1983), Ind.App., 450 N.E.2d 72, 77; K.B. v. S.B. (1981), Ind.App., 415 N.E.2d 749, 754; Roberts v. Wabash Life Insurance Co. (1980), Ind.App., 410 N.E.2d 1377, 1385, trans. denied; In re Marriage of Miles (1977), 173 Ind.App. 5, 8, 362 N.E.2d 171, 174, trans. denied. Consequently, whether the findings are adequate depends on whether they are sufficient to disclose a valid basis under the issues for the legal result reached. Morphew v. Morphew (1981), Ind.App., 419 N.E.2d 770, 773; K.B. v. S.B., at 754; Roberts, at 1385; Miles, 173 Ind.App. at 8, 362 N.E.2d at 174.

In the present case, the findings entered by the Hendricks Circuit Court on remand are not of the quality this court would ordinarily prefer to base its review upon. We have, however, been provided with the ICRC's comprehensive findings of fact and conclusions of law together with the administrative record upon which they were based. Moreover, the parties have

Page 616

presented extensive legal arguments despite the state of the trial court's findings. Under these particular facts, the trial court's findings and conclusions are not so inadequate as to impede our intelligent review of the substantive issues raised by the parties. See Goffredo v. Indiana State Department of Public Welfare (1981), Ind.App., 419 N.E.2d 1337, 1339, trans. denied. Hence, we proceed to a consideration of those issues.

Issue Two

The DOC next asserts that the trial court erred when it failed to reverse the ICRC's determination that it had engaged in unlawful gender-based employment discrimination. It argues specifically that such a determination was contrary to law, unsupported by the findings of fact, and unsupported by substantial evidence in the record. Before addressing the substance of this issue, we find it necessary to remind the parties of the standard of review the trial court was required to apply in this case.

Indiana Code section 4-22-1-18 (Burns Supp.1985), outlines the standards for judicial review of administrative determinations. It states in pertinent part:

"(a) On such judicial review, such court shall not try to determine said cause de novo, but the facts shall be considered and determined exclusively upon the record filed with said court pursuant to this chapter.

(b) On such judicial review, if the agency has complied with the procedural requirements of this chapter and its finding, decision, or determination is supported by substantial, reliable, and probative evidence, such agency's finding, decision, or determination shall not be set aside or disturbed.

(c) If such court finds such finding, decision, or determination of such agency is:

(1) Arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law;

(2) Contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or immunity;

(3) In excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short [of] statutory right;

(4) Without observance of procedure required by law; or

(5) Unsupported by substantial evidence; the court may order the decision or determination of the agency set aside. The court may remand the case to the agency for further proceedings and may compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed."

Judge Staton further explained a particularily pertinent portion of this standard when he stated in Indiana Education Employment Relations Bd. v. Board of School Trustees (1978), 176 Ind.App. 680, 377 N.E.2d 414:

"The board or agency, not the court determines the issues of fact. The court cannot weigh conflicting evidence, which appears in the record of the hearing, for the purpose of determining for whom it preponderates. If there is any substantial evidence to support the finding of the board or agency, the court may not disturb the board's or...

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