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September 23, 1971

Robert J. MASON et al., Plaintiffs,
COUNTY OF DELAWARE, Defendant, and Harry A. McNichol et al., Defendants

Vanartsdalen, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: VANARTSDALEN

VANARTSDALEN, District Judge.

 Plaintiffs are former County employees, hired "at will" as juvenile detention officers, who claim they were discharged in violation of their constitutional rights. As public employees, hired at will, they assert that they were entitled, under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, to a notice with a specification of reasons for discharge, and a "minimal due process" hearing to refute or answer such reasons, prior to being discharged. Plaintiffs' cause of action is based on the "Civil Rights Act", Title 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 (1970); and this Court's jurisdiction is founded on Title 28 U.S.C.A. § 1343(3)-(4) (1962).

 The facts are not in dispute so far as the present issues are concerned. Seven former employees of the juvenile probation department of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, seek in this action to obtain a mandatory injunction to be reinstated and to be awarded compensatory damages. The defendants are the County of Delaware, the County Commissioners, and the County Judges, all of whom are alleged to be the statutory employers of plaintiffs. A hearing was held on a motion for a preliminary injunction, and after hearing, filing of briefs and oral argument, the motion was denied. There are pending motions to dismiss and for summary judgment for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a cause of action.

 Each of the plaintiffs testified during the preliminary injunction hearing. From the pleadings and the testimony taken at the hearing, the following facts are established: --

 1. Plaintiffs were all employees of Delaware County. They worked in the juvenile detention center. One plaintiff was a supervisor of juvenile detention officers; one was a supervisor of juvenile matrons; one was a juvenile matron; the remaining four were juvenile detention officers. Their respective salaries ranged from a low of $6,031 annually for the juvenile matron to a high of $7,042 for the supervisor of juvenile detention officers. The supervisor of juvenile matrons had been employed by the County since June of 1960. The juvenile matron had been so employed since 1951. All other plaintiffs had been County employees for less than three years.

 2. On May 20, 1971, a letter sent over the signature of the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer to each plaintiff stated, inter alia: "[Upon] the directive of the President Judge and with the concurrence of the Chairman of the County Commissioners, you are hereby dismissed for cause at once from your position. * * *"

 3. On May 22, 1971, the plaintiffs wrote a letter to the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County requesting a hearing relative to their dismissal. The letter further stated that: "It is our profound contention that our termination for cause or causes unknown is inconsistent with fair employment practices." The letter requested a meeting of all concerned to discuss the reasons for the County's action and to afford plaintiffs an opportunity to respond to charges of which they claimed to be totally unknowledgeable. The request was denied by the President Judge by letter of May 25, 1971.

 4. Plaintiffs have received no official explanation for their discharge other than the letter of dismissal, dated May 20, 1971.

 5. Most of the discharged employees failed to report for work on a given date shortly before they were discharged, and most of them telephoned the night before saying they were sick. One of the supervisors at the juvenile detention center told one or more of the plaintiffs that the reason for the discharges was for failure to follow regulations.

 7. Plaintiffs had various backgrounds and skills prior to being employed by the County. There were no special skills, qualifications or requirements specified by the employer during the periods when any of the individual plaintiffs were employed, although several plaintiffs had prior experience in juvenile, child welfare, and/or social work.

 8. Subsequent to discharge, several plaintiffs obtained other employment, some in entirely unrelated occupations. No plaintiff has claimed total inability to obtain other employment by reason of his or her discharge, but most, if not all have experienced some difficulty in obtaining work, and all preferred their former employment with the County.

 9. Plaintiffs have sought no other judicial or administrative remedy than the written request to the President Judge of Delaware County ...

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