Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Company, No. 80-5950

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBLACKMUN
Citation102 S.Ct. 1148,455 U.S. 422,71 L.Ed.2d 265
Decision Date24 February 1982
Docket NumberNo. 80-5950
PartiesLaverne L. LOGAN v. ZIMMERMAN BRUSH COMPANY et al

455 U.S. 422
102 S.Ct. 1148
71 L.Ed.2d 265
Laverne L. LOGAN

v.

ZIMMERMAN BRUSH COMPANY et al.

No. 80-5950.
Argued Oct. 14, 1981.
Decided Feb. 24, 1982.
Syllabus

The Illinois Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) barred employment discrimination on the basis of physical handicap unrelated to ability. To obtain relief, a complainant had to bring a charge of unlawful conduct before the Illinois Fair Employment Practices Commission (Commission) within 180 days of the occurrence of such alleged conduct. The statute then gave the Commission 120 days within which to convene a factfinding conference to obtain evidence, ascertain the parties' positions, and explore the possibility of a settlement. Appellant, an employee of appellee, was discharged purportedly because his short left leg made it impossible for him to perform his duties as a shipping clerk. Appellant filed a timely charge alleging unlawful termination of his employment, but apparently through inadvertence the Commission scheduled the factfinding conference for a date 5 days after expiration of the 120-day statutory period. The Commission denied appellee's motion that the charge be dismissed for failure to hold a timely conference. On appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the failure to comply with the 120-day convening requirement deprived the Commission of jurisdiction to consider appellant's charge, and rejected appellant's argument that his federal due process and equal protection rights would be violated were the Commission's error allowed to extinguish his cause of action.

Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.

82 Ill.2d 99, 44 Ill.Dec. 308, 411 N.E.2d 277, reversed and remanded.

Justice BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court, concluding that appellant was deprived of a protected property interest in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 428-437.

(a) Appellant's right to use the FEPA's adjudicatory procedures is a species of property protected by the Due Process Clause. Cf. Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 70 S.Ct. 652, 94 L.Ed. 865. The hallmark of property is an individual entitlement grounded in state law, which cannot be removed except "for cause," and appellant's right shares this characteristic. The 120-day limitation is a procedural limitation on the claimant's ability to assert his rights, not a substantive element of the FEPA claim. Pp. 428-433.

(b) A consideration of the competing interests involved—the importance of the private interest and the length or finality of the deprivation,

Page 423

the likelihood of governmental error, and the magnitude of the governmental interests—leads to the conclusion that appellant is entitled to have the Commission consider the merits of his charge, based upon the substantiality of the available evidence, before deciding whether to terminate his claim. The State's interest in refusing appellant's procedural request is, on the record, insubstantial. Pp. 433-435.

(c) The availability of a post-termination tort action does not provide appellant due process. It is the state system itself that destroys a complainant's property interest, by operation of law, whenever the Commission fails to convene a timely conference; appellant is challenging not the Commission's error but the "established state procedure" that destroys his entitlement without according him proper procedural safeguards. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 420, distinguished. The Fourteenth Amendment requires " 'an opportunity . . . granted at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner' . . . 'for [a] hearing appropriate to the nature of the case,' " Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371, 378, 91 S.Ct. 780, 786, 28 L.Ed.2d 113, and here appellant was denied such an opportunity. Pp. 435-437.

Justice BLACKMUN, in a separate opinion, joined by Justice BRENNAN, Justice MARSHALL, and Justice O'CONNOR, concluded that under the "rational-basis" standard, the Illinois statute, as interpreted and applied by the Illinois Supreme Court to establish two categories—those processed within the prescribed 120 days and thus entitled to full consideration on the merits, and otherwise identical claims not processed within the prescribed time and thus terminated without a hearing—deprived appellant of his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the laws. Pp. 438-442.

Justice POWELL, joined by Justice REHNQUIST, while not joining all the broad pronouncements on the law of equal protection in Justice BLACKMUN's separate opinion, also concluded that the challenged classification, as construed and applied in this case, failed to be rationally related to a state interest that would justify it, and thus violated appellant's right to equal protection of the laws. Pp. 443-444.

Gary H. Palm, Chicago, Ill., for appellant.

Page 424

Jay A. Canel, Chicago, Ill., for appellee.

Justice BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.*

The issue in this case is whether a State may terminate a complainant's cause of action because a state official, for reasons beyond the complainant's control, failed to comply with a statutorily mandated procedure.

I
A.

The Illinois Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA or Act), Ill.Rev.Stat., ch. 48, ¶ 851 et seq. (1979), barred employment discrimination on the basis of "physical . . . handicap unrelated to ability." ¶ 853(a). It also established a comprehensive scheme for adjudicating allegations of discrimination. To begin the process, a complainant had to bring a charge of unlawful conduct before the Illinois Fair Employment Practices Commission (Commission) within 180 days of the occurrence of the allegedly discriminatory act. ¶ 858(a). The statute—in the provision directly at issue here—then gave the Commission 120 days within which to convene a factfinding conference designed to obtain evidence, ascertain the positions of the parties, and explore the possibility of a negotiated settlement. ¶ 858(b). If the Commission found "substantial evidence" of illegal conduct, it was to attempt to "eliminate the effect thereof . . . by means of

Page 425

conference and conciliation," ¶ 858(c), and, if that proved impossible, to issue a formal complaint against the employer within 180 days after the expiration of the 120-day period. ¶ 858(d). A formal adversary hearing was then to be held before a commissioner or duly appointed adjudicator, who was to make findings and who was empowered to recommend reinstatement, back-pay, and reasonable attorney's fees. ¶ 858.01. If the commissioner or adjudicator did not find substantial evidence of discrimination, he was to recommend dismissal of the charge. Ibid.

The findings and recommended order were to be filed with the Commission. A complainant was entitled to obtain review by the full Commission of any of the possible dispositions of his charge, including an initial determination that the evidence did not justify a complaint. The Commission was to file a written order and decision. ¶ 858.02; Illinois Fair Employment Practices Commission, Rules and Regulations, § 4.5 (1979). If still not satisfied, the complainant could seek judicial review of any Commission order. ¶ 860.1

Page 426

B

On November 9, 1979, appellant Laverne L. Logan, a probationary employee hired one month previously, was discharged by appellee Zimmerman Brush Company, purportedly because Logan's short left leg made it impossible for him to perform his duties as a shipping clerk. Five days later, Logan, acting pro se, filed a charge with the Commission alleging that his employment had been unlawfully terminated because of his physical handicap. App. 3. This triggered the Commission's statutory obligation under ¶ 858(b) to convene a factfinding conference within 120 days; in Logan's case, this meant by March 13, 1980. Apparently through inadvertence, the Commission's representative scheduled the conference for March 18, five days after expiration of the statutory period. Notice of the meeting, which was mailed to both parties in January 1980, specified the hearing's date and location and declared that attendance was "required." It, however, did not allude to the FEPA's 120-day time limit. App. 5. The Commission also asked the company to complete a short questionnaire concerning its employment practices, and directed that it submit its answers by March 10. Ibid. The company did this without objection.

When the conference date arrived, the company moved that Logan's charge be dismissed because the Commission had failed to hold the conference within the statutorily-mandated 120-day period. Id., at 12. This request was rejected. Id., at 16. The company thereupon petitioned the Supreme Court of Illinois for an original writ of prohibition. That court stayed proceedings on Logan's complaint pending decision on the request for a writ. Id., at 24. Logan meanwhile obtained counsel, and—because 180 days had not yet passed since the occurrence of the allegedly discriminatory act—filed a second charge with the Commission. Id., at 26.

Before the Illinois Supreme Court, Logan argued that terminating his claim because of the Commission's failure to convene a timely conference—a matter beyond Logan's, or in-

Page 427

deed the company's, control—would violate his federal rights to due process and equal protection of the laws. But the court noted that the statutory provision at issue, ¶ 858(b), declared: "Within 120 days of the proper filing of a charge, the Commission shall convene a fact finding conference. . . ." (Emphasis added.) The Illinois court found this legislative language to be mandatory, and accordingly it held that failure to comply deprived the Commission of jurisdiction to consider Logan's charge. Zimmerman Brush Co. v. Fair Employment Practices Comm'n, 82 Ill.2d 99, 44 Ill.Dec. 308, 411 N.E.2d 277 (1980).

The court found controlling its decision in Springfield-Sangamon...

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2805 practice notes
  • United States ex rel. Conroy v. Select Med. Corp., 3:12-cv-00051-RLY-DML
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • September 30, 2016
    ...hoping to protect their property or 211 F.Supp.3d 1152plaintiffs attempting to redress grievances." Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co. , 455 U.S. 422, 429, 102 S.Ct. 1148, 71 L.Ed.2d 265 (1982). Thus, just as a plaintiff has a protectable interest in a cause of action, a defendant has an interest......
  • Supreme Home Health Servs., Inc. v. Azar, CIVIL ACTION NO. 18-1370
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • April 8, 2019
    ...21 adjudication be preceded by notice and opportunity for hearing appropriate to the nature of the case." Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 422, 428, 102 S.Ct. 1148, 1153 (1982) (quoted source omitted). The Supreme Court regularly has held that "some form of hearing is required before ......
  • Cahn v. Berryman, NO. S-1-SC-35302
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • November 20, 2017
    ...here is a "species of property protected by the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause." 408 P.3d 1028 Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co. , 455 U.S. 422, 428, 102 S.Ct. 1148, 71 L.Ed.2d 265 (1982). Due process protection, the United States Supreme Court has often explained, generally requires ......
  • Rosemont Taxicab Co. v. Phila. Parking Auth., CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-3601
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • June 26, 2018
    ...predeprivation process’ " may mean that a postdeprivation remedy is constitutionally adequate, id. (quoting Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 422, 436, 102 S.Ct. 1148, 71 L.Ed.2d 265 (1982) ); and (2) "where the potential length or severity of 327 F.Supp.3d 826the deprivation does not ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2804 cases
  • United States ex rel. Conroy v. Select Med. Corp., 3:12-cv-00051-RLY-DML
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • September 30, 2016
    ...hoping to protect their property or 211 F.Supp.3d 1152plaintiffs attempting to redress grievances." Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co. , 455 U.S. 422, 429, 102 S.Ct. 1148, 71 L.Ed.2d 265 (1982). Thus, just as a plaintiff has a protectable interest in a cause of action, a defendant has an interest......
  • Cahn v. Berryman, NO. S-1-SC-35302
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • November 20, 2017
    ...here is a "species of property protected by the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause." 408 P.3d 1028 Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co. , 455 U.S. 422, 428, 102 S.Ct. 1148, 71 L.Ed.2d 265 (1982). Due process protection, the United States Supreme Court has often explained, generally requires ......
  • Rosemont Taxicab Co. v. Phila. Parking Auth., CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-3601
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • June 26, 2018
    ...predeprivation process’ " may mean that a postdeprivation remedy is constitutionally adequate, id. (quoting Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 422, 436, 102 S.Ct. 1148, 71 L.Ed.2d 265 (1982) ); and (2) "where the potential length or severity of 327 F.Supp.3d 826the deprivation does not ......
  • Bimber's Delwood, Inc. v. James, 20-CV-1043S
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • October 21, 2020
    ...have thus received all of the process due through the legislative determinations underlying § 29-a. See Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 422, 433, 102 S. Ct. 1148, 71 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1982). Individual procedural due process protections therefore do not apply. See Murphy, 2020 WL 442516......
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2 books & journal articles
  • Schoolhouse Property.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 5, March 2022
    • March 1, 2022
    ...under the Due Process Clause). (13.) Goss v, Lopez, 419 U.S. 565, 573-76 (1975). (14.) See, e.g., Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 422, 430 (1982) ("[T]he types of interests protected as 'property' are varied and, as often as not, intangible, relating 'to the whole domain of social an......
  • Dog Process or Due Pupcess? Federal Court Misses Opportunity to Modernize Pet Due Process Jurisprudence: Lunon v. Botsford.
    • United States
    • Missouri Law Review Vol. 86 Nbr. 4, September 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    ...sufficient to meet due process requirements. Id. (87) Id. at 961. (88) Id. (89) Id. at 961 -62. (90) Id. at 962. (91) Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 422, 434 (1982); O'Keefe, 908 F. Supp. 2d at (92) Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 334 (1976). (93) Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 128 (199......

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