Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania Dated August 28, 1986, Entered at No. 247 C.D. 1985, Vacating in Part the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in Appeal No. 5407.
Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala, Papadakos and Stout, JJ. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion.
The issue presented by this appeal is whether the reclassification of an employee's position to a class with a lower maximum rate of pay constitutes a demotion for purposes of the Civil Service Act, Act of August 5, 1941, P.L. 752, as amended, 71 P.S. §§ 741.1-741.1005. We hold that the reclassification of an employee's position which results in reassignment to a position in a class with a lower maximum pay rate without a reduction in pay is not a demotion under the Civil Service Act.
Appellee James C. McHale was employed by the Appellant, the Department of Transportation (DOT), in a position classified as a Traffic Control Specialist Supervisor, which was designated as Pay Range 41. In October, 1983, DOT conducted a classification and organizational survey. By letter dated August 1, 1984, DOT advised McHale that the classification review of his position had determined that the current classification was inappropriate for his responsibilities.
DOT indicated that reassignment was not possible because no position as a Traffic Control Specialist Supervisor was available and that McHale's position would be "reallocated downward" to the Traffic Control Specialist, designated Pay Range 38, effective August 8, 1984. McHale was advised that he would retain his current salary.
After receiving the notice of his reclassification, McHale filed an appeal request with the State Civil Service Commission. On the appeal request form, he indicated that he was appealing a demotion pursuant to section 951(a) of the Civil Service Act, 71 P.S. § 741.951(a), and on the basis of a discriminatory personnel action pursuant to section 951(b), 71 P.S. § 741.951(b). The Commission refused McHale's request for a hearing on December 13, 1984.
On appeal, the Commonwealth Court affirmed the Commission's decision denying McHale a hearing under § 951(b) of the Civil Service Act, but vacated the Commission's decision denying him a hearing under § 951(a) of the Act. 100 Pa. Commw. 148, 514 A.2d 290. The Commonwealth Court reasoned that McHale's reassignment was a demotion because the maximum salary for a Traffic Control Specialist Supervisor during the time when he was reassigned was higher than the maximum salary for a Traffic Control Specialist.
DOT contends that the Commonwealth Court erred in ruling that a downward reclassification of a civil service position is appealable as a demotion to the Civil Service Commission and that the lower court's ruling conflicts with this Court's decision in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Office of Administration v. Orage, 511 Pa. 528, 515 A.2d 852 (1986).
In Orage, the issue raised was whether the Department of Transportation's refusal to reclassify an employee's job after a request to do so was an "adjudication" under the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa.C.S. §§ 101 et seq. The Commonwealth Court had held that civil service employees had property rights in having their jobs accurately classified and that adverse determinations in reclassification proceedings
were agency adjudications appealable under the Administrative Agency Law. We reversed the Commonwealth Court's holding, reasoning that because there is no per se right to government employment, no right exists to have a job designated by a particular classification in the absence of a specific legislative or contractual provision creating such a right. We determined that no such provision existed.
DOT argues that the Commonwealth Court's ruling in the instant case is inconsistent with our decision in Orage. Unlike Orage, however, DOT acted affirmatively to reclassify Appellee's position to a class with a lower maximum salary. Based upon this distinction, the Appellee contends that a right to appeal a reclassification of his position to a class with a lower ...