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JOHNNIE CORLEY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/24/85)

decided: December 24, 1985.

JOHNNIE CORLEY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in the case of Johnnie Corley v. Philadelphia State Hospital, Department of Public Welfare, Appeal No. 5086.

COUNSEL

Robert S. Mirin, for petitioner.

Roger T. Margolis, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Doyle and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 93 Pa. Commw. Page 640]

This is an appeal by Johnnie Corley (Appellant) from an order of the State Civil Service Commission (Commission) sustaining Appellant's appeal from suspension and subsequent removal from his position as Psychiatric Aide I, regular status, and, hence, reinstating him, but denying him back pay.

Appellant was suspended by the Philadelphia State Hospital, Department of Public Welfare (Appointing Authority) on January 26, 1984 pending investigation of charges that he inflicted bodily harm upon another employee, one Marilyn Brooks (Brooks) at the work site. By letter dated February 9, 1984 Appellant was removed from his position effective February 10, 1984 on the charge of inflicting bodily harm on Brooks.

The Commission found that on January 14, 1984 Appellant struck Brooks on the face and that subsequent to this incident Brooks left the work site complaining of an ear injury. Brooks was later diagnosed as having a perforated eardrum. The Commission further found that prior to the January 14 incident Brooks had been seen on several occasions with cotton in her ears. Furthermore, Brooks, according to the Commission's findings, "had a well-established reputation within the appointing authority institution as a 'bossy' person and a 'troublemaker.'"

The Commission, although it determined that Appellant had, in fact, hit Brooks, also made findings

[ 93 Pa. Commw. Page 641]

    relating to mitigating circumstances. Specifically, the Commission wrote:

No fewer than nine witnesses have credibly testified to previous confrontations of Brooks with other employes, employes requesting transfers away from her, to Brooks herself being transferred because of problems with employes and to Brooks' generally annoying nature . . . . These same witnesses . . . have additionally testified to appellant's typically easy-going, agreeable demeanor. . . . As a result of this testimony, it appears likely to our reasonable minds that, although it is clear that the slapping incident occurred, we are nonetheless predisposed to attach greater credibility to appellant's version of the facts, absent any direct testimony other than that of the two protagonists. (Citations to the record omitted.)

Finally, the Commission noted that under the Appointing Authority's manual dismissal is the suggested remedy where an employee is injured as a result of another employee's physical assault. The Commission determined that the Appointing Authority had failed to establish that Appellant had injured Brooks. It stated, "[t]he clear implication from testimony given at hearing is that Brooks had ear problems some time prior to January 14, 1984." Based upon its determination that the Appointing Authority had not shown, pursuant to the terms in its manual, that Appellant had caused the injury and based upon the mitigating circumstances it found, the Commission ruled that the Appointing Authority had failed to show good cause for the suspension ...


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