Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in the case of Eugene P. Murphy, et al. v. Edward J. Bradley, Individually and acting in his capacity as President Judge on behalf of all Judges in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, No. 4444 of 1981.
Jack M. Bernard, for appellants.
Richard C. McNeill, Jr., Assistant City Solicitor, with him, Hansel B. Minyard, City Solicitor, for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Craig, Doyle, Barry and Colins. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 388]
This is an appeal brought by various employees of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (appellants) from an order of Judge John A. Cherry sitting as a visiting judge of that court. Judge Cherry's order entered judgment in favor of the defendant as against all of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs appealing the order are court employees who work in the prothonotary's office of Philadelphia County.*fn1
The pertinent factual scenario giving rise to the plaintiff's complaint began in 1973. In that year the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County was reorganized for the purpose of paralleling the organization of the employees of the City of Philadelphia. Although the plaintiffs here are employees of the court, the court's funding, including the plaintiffs' salaries, is provided by the City. Following the reorganization certain employees, including the appellants, were found to be receiving salaries in excess of that allocated to their positions. Rather than promote these employees into positions warranting their salaries or reducing their salaries to be commensurate with their duties they were "red-circled." The red-circled employees remained in their positions and their salaries were frozen until such time as the salary for that position reached the rate they were receiving or until they were promoted out of those positions. Their pay increases were limited to longevity pay
[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 389]
increases and general pay increases granted to all court employees.*fn2 This provision of the new pay plan was communicated to each of the appellants at the time of reorganization in the form of a memorandum from the Chief Deputy Administrator for Management Services. That memorandum stated in pertinent part, "You . . . will receive any general pay increase granted to court employees in the future."
From 1973 through the court's fiscal year ending June 30, 1979 (fiscal year 1979) the red-circled employees received the annual cost of living adjustments granted to all court employees.
By memorandum dated June 20, 1979, President Judge Edward J. Bradley of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County*fn3 notified all court employees that he had advised the City's Director of Finance that he intended to apply to all court employees the benefits which had been negotiated for the city employees with their union. Among those benefits was a general pay increase for fiscal year 1980. However, by memorandum dated September 28, 1979, Judge Bradley notified all red-circled court employees that they would not receive the fiscal year 1980 general pay increase due to budgetary constraints and to achieve uniformity with the city's red-circled employees who had not been receiving general pay increases.
The plaintiffs initiated the present action alleging a contractual right to the general wage increase. Judge Cherry found in favor of the defendant concluding that the plaintiffs ...