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THOMAS O'BYRNE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/17/85)

decided: October 17, 1985.

THOMAS O'BYRNE, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in case of Thomas O'Byrne v. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Appeal No. 4800.

COUNSEL

Joseph A. Klein, for petitioner.

Robert C. Bell, Assistant Counsel, with him, Spencer A. Manthorpe, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Rogers and MacPhail, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 287]

The petitioner, Thomas J. O'Byrne, has appealed from an order of the State Civil Service Commission upholding his furlough from his former position in the classified service of Right-of-Way-Administrator, regular status, with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (department).

In January, 1983, the Secretary of Transportation ordered a reorganization of the four central bureaus of the department's Highway Administration. The primary objective of the reorganization was to decentralize the bureaus and transfer review responsibilities from central office staff to the district offices, thereby eliminating one layer of management and the duplication of work.

Members of two task forces, an Employee Task Force and an Executive Task Force, met with department

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 288]

    employees in discussion of how through decentralization and reorganization the work of the service divisions could be accomplished. During this consultation process, Mr. O'Byrne recommended consolidating his Right-of-Way Division and the Utilities and Grade Crossing Section, of which one Kenneth Walker was the chief.

The appointing authority prepared a plan of reorganization, the Office of Administration approved it and the Executive Board ratified the approval. Under the reorganization, the Right-of-Way Division was consolidated with the Utilities and Grade Crossing Section. Mr. Walker was chosen chief of the consolidated division. Mr. Walker was a licensed civil engineer, which Mr. O'Byrne was not. Mr. O'Byrne's administrative work as Right-of-Way Administrator was assigned to Mr. Walker and his other duties to others. Mr. O'Byrne's position as Right-of-Way Administrator was eliminated and he was furloughed. Mr. O'Byrne appealed this action to the Civil Service Commission.

The Civil Service Commission, after extensive hearings, decided that the appointing authority properly furloughed Mr. O'Byrne from his position as Right-of-Way Administrator for lack of work.*fn1

Mr. O'Byrne argues that the Commission's finding that he was furloughed for lack of work was not supported by substantial evidence.*fn2 A furlough is defined at ...


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