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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHN L. ORAGE (09/25/86)

decided: September 25, 1986.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATION, APPELLANT,
v.
JOHN L. ORAGE, APPELLEE



On appeal from a decision in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania docketed at No. 2493 C.D. 1983, dated October 15, 1984. 85 Pa. Commw. Ct. 497; Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Flaherty

[ 511 Pa. Page 530]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is an appeal from an order of the Commonwealth Court which held that civil service job reclassification proceedings are subject to the procedural requirements of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa.C.S.A. § 101 et seq. Orage v. Commonwealth, Office of Administration, 85 Pa. Commw.Ct. 497, 482 A.2d 1174 (1984). Specifically, it was held by Commonwealth Court that civil service employees seeking to have their jobs reclassified have a legitimate claim of entitlement, i.e. a property right, to have their jobs placed in classes whose specified duties and responsibilities most closely resemble their own, and, thus, under the Administrative Agency Law, that such employees have a right to appeal adverse determinations to Commonwealth Court.

The appellee, John L. Orage, was employed by the Department of Transportation as a Construction Cost Specialist IV. Asserting that his duties were those of a Program Analyst V, Orage requested that his job be reclassified. A review was made of Orage's request but it was determined that Orage's duties were those of a Program Analyst III, and, hence, Orage was reclassified as such. Dissatisfied with this classification, Orage then appealed to the Commonwealth's Office of Administration to have his position reclassified to a higher level of Program Analyst. Reclassification was, however, denied. An appeal was taken to Commonwealth Court, whereupon the Office of Administration filed a motion to quash the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The motion to quash was denied on grounds that Commonwealth Court has jurisdiction over

[ 511 Pa. Page 531]

    appeals from administrative "adjudications," 2 Pa.C.S.A. § 702, and the Office of Administration's refusal to reclassify Orage's job was regarded by Commonwealth Court as being such an "adjudication." Thus, the issue presented by the instant appeal is whether the refusal to reclassify Orage's job was properly regarded as an "adjudication."

In the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa.C.S.A. § 101, the term "adjudication" is defined, in relevant part, as follows: "Any final order, decree, decision, determination or ruling by an agency affecting personal or property rights, privileges, immunities, duties, liabilities or obligations of any or all of the parties to the proceeding in which the adjudication is made." Commonwealth Court held that employees have property rights in having their jobs accurately classified, and, thus, determined that adverse determinations in reclassification proceedings constitute "adjudications" from which employees are entitled to appeal. Finding that the proceedings below had not been conducted in accordance with the Administrative Agency Law, to wit, that there had not been made a stenographic record of the hearing and that findings of fact and conclusions of law had not been issued, Commonwealth Court remanded for proper proceedings.

It is well established that employment with the government is not a matter to which one has a per se right. Kelly v. Jones, 419 Pa. 305, 312-313, 214 A.2d 345, 350 (1965). Rather, if an employee is entitled to employment, the source of the entitlement must normally be legislative or contractual in nature. Guthrie v. Borough of Wilkinsburg, 505 Pa. 249, 256, 478 A.2d 1279, 1282 (1984). See also Sterling v. Commonwealth, Department of Environmental Resources, 504 Pa. 7, 14, 470 A.2d 101, 104 (1983) (Opinion in Support of Affirmance); Scott v. Philadelphia Parking Authority, 402 Pa. 151, 166 A.2d 278 (1960). Given that there is no per se right to governmental employment itself, it follows that there is no right to have one's job designated by a particular classification unless there can be discerned a specific legislative or contractual provision creating

[ 511 Pa. Page 532]

    such a right. In the instant case, no such provision is to be found.

There exists in the Commonwealth an Executive Board, comprised of the Governor and six gubernatorially designated heads of administrative departments. 71 P.S. § 64. The Executive Board is empowered to standardize the employment qualifications, titles, salaries, and wages of persons employed by most of the Commonwealth's administrative departments, boards, and commissions. 71 P.S. § 249(a). In establishing such standards, the Executive Board "may . . . [e]stablish different standards for different kinds, grades and classes of similar work or service." 71 P.S. § 249(a)(2). Further, it is provided that "[t]he classification of positions and the compensation of employes in the classified service shall conform to standards and rules adopted by the Executive Board."*fn1 71 P.S. § 741.707. The latter provision, while directing that classifications are to conform to standards and rules adopted by the Executive Board, fails to contain any language granting employees enforceable property rights in the administration of the Commonwealth's classification system. This is evident upon comparison of the instant provision with other provisions of the Civil Service Act which clearly create enforceable rights in employees.

For example, 71 P.S. § 741.807 provides that no civil servant may be dismissed from employment absent just cause. Similarly, 71 P.S. § 741.706 provides that civil servants may be demoted only when they fail to satisfactorily perform the duties of their current positions and are able to perform the duties of lower ...


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