Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in the case of In Re: Appeal of Samuel Petryszak from the Decision of the Board of Supervisors of Falls Township sustaining the decision of the Township Manager to discharge Samuel Petryszak from employment with the Township of Falls, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, No. 82-1085-05.
Ronald Jay Smolow, Groen & Smolow, for appellant.
R. Michael Carr, with him, Stephen J. Springer, LaBrum and Doak, for appellee.
Judges Williams, Jr., Barry and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 403]
Samuel Petryszak has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County affirming his dismissal from employment by the Township of Falls (Township).
In February of 1978, Mr. Petryszak became employed by the Township as a Code Enforcement Officer. In November 1980, Petryszak was hospitalized for about five days as a result of his having suffered chest pains. He was diagnosed as having a "myocardial insufficiency," which, in lay terms, meant that his coronary artery was unable to transport sufficient quantities of blood to the heart muscle. According to the medical reports, the symptoms of Mr. Petryszak's condition were chest pain and fatigue brought on by stress and physical exertion.
At some point in early December 1980, Petryszak's physician advised him that he was able to resume work on a part-time basis. A few days after receiving that advice, Petryszak approached his departmental supervisor and sought to return to work, part-time. However, the Township Manager decided that Petryszak could not be allowed to resume his job on a part-time, or limited-duty, basis. Shortly after that decision, Petryszak received from his employer a letter which, in effect, stated as follows: that the Township would not allow Petryszak to return to work until his doctor confirmed in writing that Petryszak could perform
[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 404]
his job duties without limitation. That letter had been sent by the departmental supervisor, as a result of his conference with the Township Manager about Petryszak's situation.
On February 13, 1981, Petryszak obtained from his physician, Dr. William T. McKenna, D.O., a written certification of ability to resume full-time work. That same day, Petryszak presented the certification to his supervisor and stated that he was ready to start working again. The Township, however, would not allow Mr. Petryszak to resume his duties until he was examined by a heart specialist selected by the Township. To that end, the Township engaged the services of Dr. J. Edward Pickering, a cardiologist from Philadelphia.
Dr. Pickering, after considering Petryszak's medical and personal history, and after giving him an examination, concluded that the employee had a heart condition which necessitated the avoidance of physical exertion and stress. Because Petryszak's job, as the evidence depicts it, did involve physical exertion and the possibility of stress, Dr. Pickering determined that Petryszak was no longer capable of performing the duties of his job.*fn1 Dr. McKenna, Petryszak's own physician, later testified that he did not know the exact nature of his patient's work when he advised him to return to his job.
On April 23, 1981, which was about three weeks after Dr. Pickering had given the Township his medical report, the ...