Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of the 59th Judicial District, Elk County Branch, in case of Appeal of Marshall Nortum, a member of the Police Force of the Borough of Johnsonburg, County of Elk, State of Pennsylvania, No. 81-582.
Vernon D. Roof, for appellant.
Norbert J. Powell, Brahaney & Powell, for appellee, Marshall Nortum.
Judges Rogers, Craig and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
In this civil service appeal, the Borough of Johnsonburg questions an order by the common pleas court vacating a five-day suspension imposed upon police officer Marshall Nortum for neglect of duty, striking the suspension from the officer's personnel record, and ordering full wage reimbursement for the period.
Notified by a letter from the mayor dated December 10, 1980 of the charges and penalty, the officer, through his attorney, requested a hearing before the Police Civil Service Commission by letter dated December 12, 1980 to the mayor, with copies to the president of the borough council and the police chief. Although originally scheduled for December 24, 1980, the hearing did not actually take place until April 6, 1981, when the commission upheld the five-day suspension.
The borough first contends that the certified letter sent to the mayor was not a proper request for a hearing under Section 1191 of the Borough Code,*fn1 which requires that "the demand [for a hearing] shall be made to the commission."
As this court stated in Mawn v. Civil Service Commission, 17 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 9, 330 A.2d 271 (1975): "The Civil Service Act*fn2 is remedial legislation designed to protect public employees in employment and promotion, and the procedures established to implement
that purpose should be liberally construed." Because the facts here clearly indicate that the officer was successful in communicating his desire to question the police department's disciplinary action in the formal civil service setting, the addressing of the request became immaterial.
The borough primarily challenges, however, the lower court's rationale for overturning the commission's decision, that the commission hearing was not held within the statutorily mandated ten-day period.*fn3
The record clearly reveals that, despite the officer's prompt request for a hearing, the initial hearing date was scheduled for December 24, which was later than ten days after ...