As in DiCello and Zimmerman, the statute involved in Abraham's case does not set forth particularized, enumerated reasons permitting discharge; it merely sets forth a broad, flexible standard-"just cause-against which the reasons for discharge were to be judged. The permissible ground for discharge is sufficiently specific, however, to distinguish Abraham from an "at will" employee and give him an enforceable expectation in continued employment. The "just cause" provision in Abraham's case is thus analogous to the standards for dismissal in DiCello ("unsatisfactory performance") and Zimmerman ("misconduct") in these material respects.
The Local Agency Law, in one form or another, has been part of the law in Pennsylvania for approximately fourteen years. The Law has been the subject of much litigation resulting in extensive judicial scrutiny and interpretation. Significantly, no decision by a Pennsylvania appellate court suggests that a "just cause" provision is inadequate to establish a property right. The only cases in which no expectation of continued employment was found involved at will employees. Clearly, Abraham was not an "at will" employee. In light of the foregoing discussion, we are reasonably confident that Pennsylvania courts would find that Abraham had an enforceable expectation of continued employment, i.e., a property right, in his job and would have been entitled to a pretermination hearing under the Local Agency Law.
We have also examined Pennsylvania doctrinal trends beyond the immediate context of the Local Agency Law and have found nothing to suggest that the Commonwealth Court decisions upon which we rely are aberrational. For example, in Boresen v. Rohm & Haas, Inc., 526 F. Supp. 1230 (E.D.Pa.1981), Chief Judge Lord traced the development of Pennsylvania Law on wrongful discharge from the traditional position that an "at will" employment contract may be terminated by either the employer or the employee "at any time, for good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all," id. at 1232 (citing Henry v. Pittsburgh & Lake Erie R. Co., 139 Pa. 289, 21 A. 157 (1891)), to the current position that "when the discharge of an employee-at-will threatens public policy, the employee may have a cause of action against the employer for wrongful discharge." Id. slip op. at 1232 (quoting Yaindl v. Ingersoll-Rand Co., 281 Pa.Super. 560, 422 A.2d 611, 617 (1980)). Chief Judge Lord was careful to point out that Yaindl is not the "first case in a liberalizing trend in Pennsylvania," id. slip op. at 1236, and that the law of wrongful discharge still condones arbitrary discharges except when the public policy exception is applicable or in the absence of a specific statutory or contractual restriction.
Although it is not directly applicable to the case at hand, in terms of its value as evidence of a doctrinal trend, Boresen's survey of Pennsylvania law tends to support our conclusion. First, Boresen reveals that Pennsylvania's law of wrongful discharge makes exception for employment relationships subject to a specific statutory restriction. Such a statutory restriction exists in the local ordinance which governed Abraham's employment. Secondly, dismissal in violation of the local ordinance conceivably could fall within the public policy exception to the law's condonation of arbitrary discharges. At the very least, Boresen reveals that our conclusion is not contrary to the direction of Pennsylvania law.
Our prediction of the judgment of Pennsylvania courts finds support in the responses of other courts to questions similar to that at bar. Although it is not determinative, for the essential question before us is ultimately one of Pennsylvania law, the United States Supreme Court, in interpreting a federal statute, has held that a public employment contract subject to a "just cause" provision gave rise to a property right protected by constitutional due process. Arnett v. Kennedy, 416 U.S. 134, 152-53, 94 S. Ct. 1633, 1643-44, 40 L. Ed. 2d 15 (1974). See also Bishop v. Wood, 426 U.S. at 346 n.8, 96 S. Ct. at 2078 (1976). Equally important, the Supreme Court and many Courts of Appeals have held that a state property right was created by a "just cause" or an equivalent provision in an employment relationship and was entitled to constitutional protection. E.g., Perry v. Sindermann, supra, 408 U.S. 603, 92 S. Ct. 2700 (1972) (Texas law); Thompson v. Bass, 616 F.2d 1259 (5th Cir.) (Alabama law), cert. den. sub nom., Thompson v. Turner, 449 U.S. 983, 66 L. Ed. 2d 245, 101 S. Ct. 399 (1980); Glenn v. Newman, 614 F.2d 467 (5th Cir. 1980) (Georgia law); Needleman v. Bohlen, 602 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1979) (Massachusetts law); Brenna v. Southern Colo. State College, 589 F.2d 475 (10th Cir. 1978) (Colorado law); Jacobs v. Kunes, 541 F.2d 222 (9th Cir. 1976) (Arizona law), cert. den., 429 1094 (1977).
For the foregoing reasons, we believe that the record on the summary judgment motion shows that plaintiff had a state property right in his employment which was protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendants' motion for summary judgment is therefore denied with respect to plaintiff's due process claim.