The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dan Pellegrini, Judge
AND NOW, this 21st day of March, 2011, the opinion filed January 26, 2011, in the above-captioned matter shall be designated Opinion rather than Memorandum Opinion, and it shall be reported.
IN THE COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA
Wade T. Fatool, Petitioner v. State Civil Service Commission (Danville State Hospital), Respondent
Submitted: December 23, 2010
BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, President Judge HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge HONORABLE ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge
OPINION BY JUDGE PELLEGRINI
Wade T. Fatool (Petitioner) appeals pro se from the decision of the State Civil Service Commission (Commission) declining to reconsider its order removing Petitioner from his position as Therapeutic Recreational Service Supervisor (TRS Supervisor) at the Danville State Hospital (Employer), demoting Petitioner to the position he held prior to his promotion to TRS Supervisor, and awarding the position of TRS Supervisor to Walter J. Madalis (Madalis).*fn1 For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
This case stems from a job posting by Employer for a TRS Supervisor to which Petitioner, Madalis and four others applied. The required qualifications for the job were either (1) one year as a Therapeutic Recreational Services Worker, (2) two years of professional experience in the field of therapeutic recreation plus a college degree with certain required coursework, or (3) any equivalent combination of experience and training. Petitioner scored highest on answers to a questionnaire given by Employer as part of the application, and Madalis scored second highest. On the basis of his high score, Petitioner was awarded the position. Madalis, who had filled the position on an interim basis and had a bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation and over 30 years experience, filed suit with the Commission alleging, among other things, age discrimination, that Petitioner was unqualified for the position because he had no experience, degrees or certifications in the field of therapeutic recreation, and because one of the interviewing supervisors, who did not have a college degree, was intimidated by candidates with college degrees and made it a practice of hiring personnel without degrees over those with degrees.
In response to Madalis' allegations, the Commission held a hearing. Well in advance of the hearing, the Commission mailed a notice to Petitioner, informing him that he was an indispensable party to the action and had the option of participating in the hearing, including presenting testimony and evidence and retaining legal counsel, if he chose. The notice stated that Madalis' claim challenged the "propriety of your appointment" and warned, "If you decline to participate as a party in the litigation, the case will be heard without you. A decision in favor of [Madalis] in this case may result in your removal from the position to which you have been appointed." (Reproduced Record at Tab A.) Petitioner called the Commission and informed it that he did not wish to participate in the case, which then proceeded without him.
Following the hearing, the Commission found that Petitioner was improperly granted an interview because he did not have enough experience and qualifications for the position of TRS Supervisor. The position required two years of professional experience as of the time the posting for the job closed, June 11, 2009. Because his civil service application stated that he was appointed to the position of Therapeutic Activities Services Worker on July 28, 2006, it appeared that Petitioner had the required experience. In reality, he had been appointed to that position on July 28, 2007, giving him slightly less than two years experience. On this basis alone, the Commission concluded that he should not have been granted an interview.
The Commission then determined that even if the date of either Petitioner's certification as TRS Supervisor or his actual starting date was used, both of which were beyond two years from his July 2007 appointment, he still did not have the required credentials for the job because he did not have a college degree or the equivalent level of training and experience. Consequently, the Commission found that Petitioner had been improperly appointed to the position of TRS Supervisor, ...