Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in the case of Philadelphia Housing Authority v. Union of Security Officers, Local 1, No. 65 January Term, 1979.
James M. Deleon, with him Paul Eisenberg, for appellant.
Ronald L. Wolf, Litvin, Blumberg, Matusow & Young, for appellee.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Mencer dissents.
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 640]
The Philadelphia Housing Authority (Authority) appeals here from an order of the Court of Common
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 641]
Pleas of Philadelphia County affirming an arbitrator's award which reinstated Richard Green (employee) to the Authority's employment.
The employee had worked as an Authority security officer for approximately eleven years when, on March 27, 1979, he was discharged for allegedly using his position to obtain an improper financial relationship with one Henry Herbert, an elderly resident at the housing project where the employee worked. The employee sought reinstatement to his position through the grievance procedure provided for in his collective bargaining agreement. The parties failed to reach a settlement, and the dispute was then submitted to arbitration.
The arbitrator made the following relevant findings of fact: (1) the employee took advantage of Mr. Herbert by securing the deposit of $953.74 into a joint account, and (2) there was a close relationship between Mr. Herbert and the employee's family. The arbitrator concluded that the employee was in a position to take advantage of Mr. Herbert as a result of their family friendship and not as a result of the employee's position as a security officer, and that, although some disciplinary action was appropriate, the penalty of discharge was too severe. The arbitrator ordered the employee reinstated without back pay.
The Authority's first contention is that the collective bargaining agreement between the employee's union and the Authority left the Authority with the unreviewable discretion to discharge its employees. The collective bargaining agreement, however, clearly provides that the Authority has the right to discharge its employees for just cause but that such disciplinary action may be contested through the grievance procedure. This being the case, the arbitrator could legitimately determine that the given facts did not amount to just cause for the employee's dismissal,
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 642]
so his review is clearly contemplated. As we stated in City of Lebanon v. AFL-CIO, 36 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. ...