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Chowdhury v. Reading Hospital and Medical Center

decided: May 3, 1982.

A. RAB CHOWDHURY, M.D., APPELLANT
v.
THE READING HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL CENTER



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Before Aldisert, Van Dusen and Garth, Circuit Judges.

Author: Van Dusen

Opinion OF THE COURT

This is an appeal from a final order of the district court dismissing the plaintiff's discrimination claim, brought under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. (1976) (Title VI), for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. Chowdhury v. Reading Hospital and Medical Center, 520 F. Supp. 134 (E.D.Pa.1981). The crucial operative language in the district court's opinion is:

"Plaintiff's failure to seek administrative redress of his Title VI claims requires dismissal of the present complaint.... If the parties cannot amicably resolve their differences and other administrative remedies prove ineffective, plaintiff may return to the courts for relief. Accordingly, defendant's motion to dismiss will be granted."

Id. at 135 (citations omitted). This court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (1976).

Because we believe this conclusion to be inconsistent with expressions found in previous opinions of this court and the Supreme Court, we will reverse.

I.

These facts are alleged in the complaint:*fn1 The plaintiff is a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology. He is not of the Caucasian race.

The defendant is a non-profit corporation operating a hospital in West Reading, Pennsylvania. It has received various sorts of federal financial assistance within the meaning of section 601 of Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d (1976) (section 601). See 45 C.F.R. § 80.13 & app. A (1980).

The plaintiff sought and was denied courtesy staff privileges at the defendant hospital. He alleges that this denial was based upon his race and thus violated section 601. As a result of this denial, and without contacting the hospital's federal funding agency or otherwise seeking an administrative remedy, the plaintiff brought this action. As set forth above, the district court dismissed the complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. 520 F. Supp. at 135.

This appeal followed.

II.

Section 601 states a broad and sweeping rule of non-discrimination in any program receiving federal financial assistance:

"No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

42 U.S.C. § 2000d (1976). Its twin purposes are clear: "to avoid the use of federal resources to support discriminatory practices ... (and) to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices." Cannon v. University of Chicago, 441 U.S. 677, 704, 99 S. Ct. 1946, 1961, 60 L. Ed. 2d 560 (1979);*fn2 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 284-87, 98 S. Ct. 2733, 2745-46, 57 L. Ed. 2d 750 (1978) (opinion of Powell, J.). In furtherance of the first of these purposes, Congress explicitly provided for an administrative enforcement mechanism, contained in section 602,*fn3 by which the funding agency attempts to secure voluntary compliance and, failing that, is empowered to terminate the violator's federal funding. Under the regulations promulgated pursuant to this section, an aggrieved individual may file a complaint with the funding agency*fn4 but has no role in the investigation or adjudication, if any, of the complaint.*fn5 The only remedies contemplated by the language of the Act and the ...


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