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JOHN F. CRAVEN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/12/84)

decided: April 12, 1984.

JOHN F. CRAVEN, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in case of John F. Craven v. Department of Transportation, Appeal No. 4009.

COUNSEL

Helen R. Kotler, for petitioner.

Michael J. McCaney, Jr., Assistant Counsel, with him, Spencer A. Manthorpe, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for respondent.

Judges MacPhail, Doyle and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle. Judge MacPhail dissents.

Author: Doyle

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 509]

This is an appeal of John F. Craven of an order of the State Civil Service Commission (Commission) which sustained his appeal of his dismissal and ordered his reinstatement but denied him back pay.

Craven was hired in October, 1979 by the Department of Transportation (Department) as a Highway Equipment Manager III in the Allegheny County District. The position entailed, among other duties, supervisory and administrative responsibility for preventive maintenance on Department equipment.

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 510]

In August, 1981, an audit of Craven's records for preventive maintenance disclosed deficiencies, and an administrative control mechanism was put in place to assist Craven in the performance of his duties. In January, 1982, Craven received a performance evaluation which rated him unsatisfactory in eight of thirty-five categories. In April, 1982, a second evaluation also showed eight unsatisfactory ratings.

By letter dated May 4, 1982, Craven was dismissed from his position. He filed a timely appeal with the Commission and a hearing was held on November 5, 1982. On April 29, 1983, the Commission rendered the adjudication appealed here, reinstating Craven to his position but denying back pay.

Before this Court, Craven argues that the denial of back pay resulted from application of an erroneous standard of law by the Commission and is not supported by substantial competent evidence of record. In addition, Craven argues that the severity of the penalty denying eleven months back pay amounts to an abuse of discretion.

In its decision, the Commission stated: "We do not, however, find appellant to be completely without fault." Craven argues that this phrase evidences application of a "faultlessness" standard contrary to our case law. We have held that a denial of back pay is in error if the employee's fault is negligible or not job-related. See Elias v. Department of Public Welfare, 70 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 255, 452 A.2d 1127 (1982) (Elias II); Losieniecki v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 39 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 194, 395 A.2d 304 (1978).

Initially, we note that the language in the Commission's decision that Craven was "not completely without fault" does not, ...


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