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ROBERT D. BENJAMIN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/13/75)

decided: February 13, 1975.

ROBERT D. BENJAMIN, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in case of Appeal of Robert D. Benjamin, No. 1484.

COUNSEL

John W. Ford, for appellant.

Craig T. Stockdale, Assistant County Solicitor, with him Stephen A. Zappala, County Solicitor, for appellee.

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

Author: Rogers

[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 428]

This is the appeal of Robert D. Benjamin from an adjudication and order of the State Civil Service Commission sustaining his suspension and removal from the position of Supervising Sanitarian, regular status, with the Allegheny County Health Department.*fn1

[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 429]

Mr. Benjamin served as a supervisor in a rodent control program in Allegheny County, sponsored jointly by the County and the Commonwealth. From August 1, 1972 until June 15, 1973, the period during which the actions resulting in his suspension and removal from his civil service position allegedly occurred, he worked out of an office in the Borough of Braddock.*fn2 By successive letters of the County Health Department dated September 10, 1973 and September 19, 1973, the appellant was first suspended and then removed from his civil service position. The following reason, or charge, was provided for these actions: "The suspension action and the termination were taken as a result of an investigation which indicates dishonesty on your part in connection with your work. You were assigned a County car for use on County business in the State Rodent Control Project. At the same time, you continued to charge Allegheny County mileage reimbursement for use of your privately owned car in County business when, in fact, you were using the County owned vehicle."

After appellant's timely appeal, a hearing was conducted, at which both sides presented extensive testimony and documentary evidence. Subsequently, the Commission upheld the suspension and removal and Mr. Benjamin appealed to this court.

Our review is limited to determinations of whether the Commission's adjudication is consonant with the law, constitutional rights have been observed and necessary

[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 430]

    findings are supported by substantial evidence. Fleming v. State Civil Service Commission, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 421, 319 A.2d 185 (1974).

Appellant first argues that the notices of suspension and removal failed to set forth the charges against him with specificity sufficient to satisfy the requirement of due process, complaining of the absence of notice of specific times, dates and places of his alleged wrongdoings. While the suspension or removal notice must be framed in a manner which enables the employee to discern the nature of the charges and to adequately prepare his defense (Begis v. Industrial Board of the Department of Labor and Industry, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 558, 561, 308 A.2d 643, 645 (1973); See 4 Pa. Code ยง 105.3), it need not be drafted with the certainty of a bill of indictment. City of Pittsburgh Civil Service Commission v. Beaver, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 353, 357, 315 A.2d 672, 674 (1974). Due process of law is afforded when the employee is informed with reasonable certainty of the substance of the charges against him. Pittsburgh Press Employment Advertising Discrimination Appeal, 4 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 448, ...


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