State Human Rights Commission v. Pauley

In State Human Rights Commission v. Pauley, 158 W.Va. 495, 212 S.E.2d 77 (1975), Charles Robinson filed a complaint with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission against Edith M. Pauley charging Ms. Pauley with racial discrimination because she refused to rent him an apartment. The Commission found Ms. Pauley guilty of discrimination and imposed damages in the amount of $ 480 as compensation for time and effort expended in finding suitable housing; $ 100 as compensation for embarrassment and loss of personal dignity; and $ 100 as exemplary damages for alleged misconduct. Ms. Pauley appealed to circuit court. The court agreed that Ms. Pauley had discriminated against Mr. Robinson but found that the Commission had no statutory authority to award monetary damages. The Commission appealed to this Court. The Pauley Court found no constitutional objection to legislative authorization of an administrative agency to award damages to a victim of unlawful discrimination. The Court then decisively stated that "under the authority granted by the Human Rights Act, as provided in W.Va. Code, 1931, 5-11-1 et seq., as amended, the Human Rights Commission may make an award of monetary damages to a victim of unlawful discrimination as defined in that Act." Syllabus Point 1, id. However, Pauley was limited to allowing complainants to receive compensatory damages and then only upon proper proof of monetary loss.