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WILLIAMS v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION (10/16/74)

decided: October 16, 1974.

WILLIAMS, APPELLANT,
v.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION



Appeal from order of Commonwealth Court, No. 379 C.D. 1972, in case of Alfred B. Williams v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State Civil Service Commission.

COUNSEL

Steven E. Abraham, with him Jack E. Feinberg, R. Merle Heffner, and Feinberg, Deutsch & McErlean, for appellant.

Marx S. Leopold, Assistant Attorney General, with him Darius G. C. Moss and Sidney V. Blecker, Assistant Attorneys General, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Nix, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Manderino took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Jones

[ 457 Pa. Page 471]

This case involves the dismissal of appellant, Alfred B. Williams, as a Youth Development Counselor at Youth Forestry Camp No. 3 in Huntingdon County.

[ 457 Pa. Page 472]

An appeal was taken from the order of the Civil Service Commission upholding the removal action of appellant's employer, the Department of Public Welfare. In affirming the Civil Service Commission's order, the Commonwealth Court held that the Commission had before it sufficient evidence to find appellant "grossly negligent" in the performance of his employment duties. We granted allocatur and this appeal followed.

We are now faced with the same issue and scope of review as was the Commonwealth Court, namely whether the Civil Service Commission abused its discretion in affirming appellant's dismissal. In determining this we must decide whether the Commission had before it sufficient evidence to find that appellant's dismissal was for "just cause" pursuant to the Civil Service Act of August 5, 1941, P. L. 752, as amended, 71 P.S. § 741.807. We believe it did and therefore affirm.

The essential facts are not in dispute. Shortly after midnight on September 20, 1971, appellant discovered three students outside the Youth Forestry Camp dormitory building. He counseled these boys for about two hours during which time they were joined by a fourth boy. Before sending the boys back to bed, appellant discussed the boys' prior history of escapes, and one of the boys admitted he planned to abscond with the other three. On a later checking of the boys, appellant failed to discover that one of the four had not returned to his own bed in another wing and that this same student had taken a vacant bed in the room of the other three boys. Appellant also failed to make certain that the boys had removed their clothing. Shortly thereafter the four escaped by driving away in a stolen camp vehicle. Subsequently they were captured and returned to the camp.

The Commission's review of the preceding incident indicates a concern for appellant's competency and ability

[ 457 Pa. Page 473]

    to perform job-related duties. In finding appellant grossly negligent, the Commission found that appellant had performed his duties in reckless disregard of the consequences. Since such dereliction of duty would certainly constitute "just cause" for dismissal, our inquiry must ...


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