Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of City of Pittsburgh Civil Service Commission v. William Beaver, No. 638 of 1971.
Eugene B. Strassburger, III, Executive City Solicitor, with him Ralph Lynch, Jr., City Solicitor, for appellant.
James B. Brown, with him Rothman, Gordon, Foreman and Groudine, for appellee.
Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr. and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
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William Beaver was employed by the City of Pittsburgh (City) for 37 years when, on May 25, 1971, he received a letter from William Edkins, the Acting Director of the City's Department of Public Works, informing him that he was being dismissed from his position
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 355]
as a Street Maintenance Supervisor. Beaver petitioned the City Civil Service Commission (Commission) to order Edkins to supply a more specific and detailed statement of the charges on which his dismissal was based. The Commission did so order and on June 11, 1971 Edkins again sent Beaver a letter advising him of his dismissal because he was unable effectively to perform the duties of his position. This time, however, charges were specified as follows: (1) Beaver was unable to coordinate and direct the activities of personnel under his supervision; (2) during working hours some of Beaver's men were found either unoccupied or playing cards; (3) personnel and equipment subject to Beaver's direction were observed unoccupied during working hours; (4) the streets in Beaver's division were littered with debris and in need of maintenance; and (5) 560 complaints, which had been received from the Mayor's Service Center regarding Beaver's division had not been corrected.
Beaver replied to these charges by letter, but Edkins imposed the dismissal. Beaver then appealed again to the Commission, which heard evidence on the matter and upheld the dismissal. Thereafter he appealed to the Court of Common Pleas which, without taking any additional evidence, reversed the action of the Commission and ordered Beaver reinstated with back pay. The City has now appealed to this Court.
Beaver's dismissal was governed by Section 20 of the Act of May 23, 1907, P.L. 206, 53 P.S. § 23453, which provides in pertinent part: "No officer, clerk, or employe, in the competitive class or in the non-competitive class of the classified civil service of any city of the second class, who shall have been appointed under the provisions of this act, or of the rules made pursuant thereto, shall be removed, discharged, or reduced in pay or position except for just cause, which shall not be religious or political. Further, no such
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officer, clerk, or employe shall be removed, discharged, or reduced, except as provided in section eight of this act, until he shall have been furnished with a written statement of the reasons for such action, and been allowed to give the removing officer such written answer as the person sought to be removed may desire. . . ." (Emphasis added.)
"All that the law requires is that the cause be not religious or political, but concerned solely with the inefficiency, delinquency or misconduct of the employe. A wide latitude must be left to the superior officer -- in fact, a discretion conditioned only on its exercise in good faith and not as a screen for some reason not based upon the fitness of the employe to fill the position. . . ." Gretton v. Pittsburgh, 344 Pa. 219, 222, 25 A.2d 351, 352 (1942). What constitutes ample cause for dismissal is largely a matter of discretion for the superior officer, provided, however, that such ...