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SCASSERRA v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION (02/02/72)

decided: February 2, 1972.

SCASSERRA
v.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission in case of Appeal of Philip F. Scasserra, Appeal No. 1162, 1971.

COUNSEL

Philip F. Scasserra, appellant, for himself.

Louis Kwall, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him S. Marx Leopold, Deputy Attorney General, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., and Kramer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 4 Pa. Commw. Page 284]

Philip F. Scasserra was appointed Caseworker Trainee by the Fayette County Board of Assistance, Department of Public Welfare, on October 22, 1970, for a probationary period of one year. On May 13, 1971, Scasserra received a letter from the executive director of the Board notifying him of immediate termination of his employment. Scasserra mailed a letter to the State Civil Service Commission requesting an appeal hearing on his removal. After timely notice, a hearing was held before the Commission on June 10, 1971, which was transcribed and made part of the record before the Court. On July 15, 1971, the Commission rendered an adjudication and order affirming Scasserra's dismissal. From that order, Scasserra filed a petition for allowance of appeal to this Court alleging procedural improprieties at the hearing before the Commission and asserting that his dismissal was based on unconstitutional discrimination proscribed by the Civil Service Act of August 5, 1941, P.L. 752, as amended by the Act of August 27, 1963, P.L. 1257, 71 P.S. § 741.905a.

"[T]he right of a party to appeal, and the jurisdiction of this Court to hear this appeal, obtain from the

[ 4 Pa. Commw. Page 285]

Administrative Agency Law, Act of June 4, 1945, P.L. 1388, as amended, 71 P.S. 1710.1, et seq. at § 1710.51(a)(43).

"Furthermore, the right of appeal by a party aggrieved, although limited by the Civil Service Act of August 5, 1941, as amended, 71 P.S. 741.951(c) has been expanded by § 1710.47 of the Administrative Agency Law. The statute, inter alia, declares: 'Where an Act of Assembly expressly provides that there shall be no appeal from an adjudication of an agency, or that the adjudication of an agency shall be final or conclusive, or shall not be subject to review, . . . any person aggrieved by such an adjudication . . . may nevertheless appeal the same . . . to the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County.'

"The scope of review to be employed by our Court derives from the Administrative Agency Law, supra, 71 P.S. 1710.44, which states: 'The court to which the appeal is taken shall hear the appeal without a jury on the record certified by the agency. After hearing the court shall affirm the adjudication unless it shall find that the same is in violation of the constitutional rights of the appellant, or is not in accordance with law, . . . or that any finding of fact made by the agency and necessary to support its adjudication is not supported by substantial evidence'. The review then is not de novo but rather one which looks to error of law or abuse of discretion as the determinative criteria." Corder v. Civil Service Commission, 2 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 462, 464-65, 279 A.2d 368, 369-70 (1971).

As to probationary employees within the civil service system, our reviewing powers are even more limited. The Act states: "At any time during his probationary period, the appointing authority may remove an employe if in the opinion of the appointing ...


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