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MILES MAHONEY v. PHILADELPHIA HOUSING AUTHORITY (06/05/74)

decided: June 5, 1974.

MILES MAHONEY, DAVID GILMORE, THOMAS STATHIS AND JON STEINBERG, APPELLANTS,
v.
PHILADELPHIA HOUSING AUTHORITY, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Miles Mahoney, David Gilmore, Thomas Stathis and Jon Steinberg v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, No. 2468 July Term, 1972. Transferred from the Superior Court of Pennsylvania to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, June 26, 1973.

COUNSEL

Michael Brodie, with him Pechner, Sacks, Dorfman, Rosen and Richardson, for appellants.

Harold Cramer, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 244]

Plaintiffs in this assumpsit action are four former executive employes of the defendant, Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA).*fn1 All four plaintiffs had entered into the employ of defendant without any written agreement or contract as to the terms of their employment.

[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 245]

Subsequently, the Board of Directors of PHA adopted a personnel policy dealing with "the establishment and administration of a merit system or personnel practices which shall treat all employees of the Philadelphia Housing Authority in a reasonable and equitable manner."

Essentially, as to the questions raised here, the disputed section of this "personnel policy" provided that dismissals should be given for cause, upon two weeks' prior notice stating reasons for the action, and that administrative personnel could appeal dismissals to a panel designated by the Board of Directors of PHA. Thereafter, all four plaintiffs were dismissed from the employment of PHA without compliance with the procedures mandated in the personnel policy.*fn2

PHA timely filed preliminary objections, in the nature of a demurrer, to the complaint.*fn3 The Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County entered an order sustaining the preliminary objections and dismissing the complaint. This appeal followed and, on the authority of Scott v. Philadelphia Parking Authority, 402 Pa. 151, 166 A.2d 278 (1960), we affirm.

In Scott it was held that public authorities*fn4 have no power, unless conferred by statute, to enter into contracts of employment which prevent such authorities from dismissing employes at will. The Scott decision is precisely on point and controls here.

[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 246]

The Scott court stated that "[t]enure in public employment, in the sense of having a claim to employment which precludes dismissal on a summary basis, is, where it exists, a matter of legislative grace," id. at 154, 166 A.2d at 281, and "where the legislature has intended that tenure should attach to public ...


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