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EDNA WOOD v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/21/80)

decided: February 21, 1980.

EDNA WOOD, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, WARREN STATE HOSPITAL, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in case of Edna Wood v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare, Warren State Hospital, Appeal No. 2406.

COUNSEL

Dennis R. Biondo, for petitioner.

Marlene W. Jackson, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. This decision was reached prior to the death of President Judge Bowman. Judge DiSalle did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Blatt

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 384]

Edna Wood (petitioner) appeals here from an order of the State Civil Service Commission (Commission) which sustained her removal from employment as a Psychiatric Aide I at the Warren State Hospital of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (respondent). She had been responsible for the daily care of 10 incapacitated patients, which involved their feeding and bathing and the changing of their clothes. By a letter dated January 25, 1978, she was notified of her dismissal effective February 8, 1978 and informed that the reason for it was her "continued unsatisfactory work performance." She requested a

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 385]

    hearing, which was held on April 11, 1978. On March 24, 1978, however, she received a second letter from the respondent which greatly expanded upon the reasons for her removal, listing five unsatisfactory performance evaluations, and adding other reasons such as bad work attitudes, failure to participate in weekly conferences, and failure to perform regular assignments. At the hearing of April 11, 1978, the Commission sustained the removal.

The petitioner contends here that the findings of the Commission were not supported by substantial evidence and, additionally, that her constitutional right to due process was violated because the notice of removal given her by the respondent was untimely and failed to explain adequately the reason for her dismissal.

Our scope of review is defined in Section 704 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 704, which requires us to affirm an adjudication of the Commission unless constitutional rights are violated, the adjudication is not in accordance with law, or a necessary finding of fact is unsupported by substantial evidence. Our careful review of the evidence leads us to conclude that there is substantial evidence in the record to support the Commission's finding that the petitioner continuously failed to meet the respondent's criteria for caring for patients and that this failure adversely affected the patients' health and comfort. We must therefore affirm the portion of the Commission's findings which hold that the petitioner was removed for just cause.

Turning to the due process issue concerning the sufficiency of the first removal notice of January 25, 1978, we note that Section 950 of the Civil Service Act, Act of August 5, 1941, P.L. 752, as amended, 71 P.S. § 741.950, provides in part:

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 386]

Every person in the classified service shall be furnished with written notice of any personnel action taken with respect to him pursuant to the provisions of this act. Such notice . . . shall be furnished within time limits prescribed by the rules of the commission. The notice shall in the case of ...


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