Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County in the case of Leo H. Lipner v. Bellefonte Area School District, No. 78-359.
John R. Miller, Jr., Miller, Kistler & Campbell, Inc., for appellant.
Virginia B. Eisenstein, Eisenstein & Bower, for appellee.
Judges Williams, Jr., Barry and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.
[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 335]
Bellefonte Area School District (Appellant) appeals from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County which held that the Appellant breached its employment contract with Leo H. Lipner (Appellee) by wrongfully terminating him. Appellant was ordered to pay $87,777.15 in compensatory damages to the Appellee. For the reasons that follow we affirm the decision below and modify as to damages.
In August of 1964, Appellee, then a school teacher in New York City, was offered a position with the Appellant as a full-time school teacher, which he accepted. Appellee was then fifty-four (54) years of age.
At the time Appellee accepted Appellant's offer the following school board policy (old policy) was in effect:
[W]hen a teacher in the Bellefonte Area Joint School District reaches the age which entitles him or her to Social Security benefits, they [sic] shall be automatically retired. Provided, however, that such employees so retired may be re-employed on a year to year basis until they reach the mandatory retirement age. If a teacher desires to be rehired on a year to year basis, review of his or her teaching will be done by the administrative staff to establish their [sic] qualifications to continue teaching.*fn1
On July 22, 1968, another policy (new policy) was adopted by the school board which provided:
[A]ll professional employees of the Bellefonte Area School District who have elected to integrate their Public School Employees Retirement
[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 336]
benefits under the Federal Social Security Act shall be retired upon reaching the age of 65 years or the age at which they become eligible for full Social Security benefits under the ...