This guide is intended to provide basic information concerning appeals to the Civil Service Commission. Excerpts from the Home Rule Charter and civil service regulations are included.
Interested persons should consult the entire text of the applicable civil service regulations and Home Rule Charter Sections for complete information as to the jurisdiction, powers, and duties of the commission.
Various types of appeals, jurisdictional requirements, and procedures for filing
Appeals concerning disability
Injured or sick employees ordered to return to duty from a work-related injury or disability who claim inability to perform the duty assigned may appeal to the commission. The requirements of such an appeal and employee responsibility are set forth in civil service regulations 32.11.
Injured or sick employees ordered to accept reasonable medical treatment for a work-related injury or disability who disagree with such treatment may appeal to the commission. The requirements of such an appeal and employee responsibility are set forth in civil service regulations 32.047 (temporarily disabled employees), regulation 32.054 (permanently and totally disabled employees), and regulation 32.0614 (permanently and partially disabled employees), which provide, inter alia:
Compliance with treatment
A Regulation 32 employee who is instructed, by a physician authorized by the Medical Director, to accept reasonable medical treatment, and does not do so, is being insubordinate, even if the employee disagrees with the treatment. In such a situation, however, the employee may appeal to the Civil Service Commission. Should the employee file an appeal with the Civil Service Commission within thirty (30) days of such refusal to accept the treatment, the employee’s absence from work for the period between the date of filing such appeal and the date a decision thereon is entered by the Commission shall be charged against accrued sick leave, vacation leave or holiday compensatory time. In the event that accrued sick and vacation leave and compensatory time are utilized and exhausted during the period prior to the Commission’s decision, the employee shall thereafter be carried without pay. A Commission decision adverse to the employee will entitle the City to recover wages paid by the City for sick leave so used retroactive to the date of the appeal.
Employees who disagree with certain other determinations regarding claimed disabilities may also appeal to the commission. Such employees must be making a claim for more than ten days’ benefit under regulation 32 and must be appealing from a written determination of their appointing authority or the director of Human Resources. The requirements for such appeals and employee responsibility, therefore, are set forth in civil service regulations 32.12 et seq.
Appeals concerning dismissals, demotions, and suspensions
Employees who are dismissed, demoted, or suspended for more than ten calendar days in any one year may appeal to the commission. The requirements and procedures for an appeal of a dismissal, demotion, or suspension are set forth in civil service regulations 17.061 et seq.
Appeals concerning examinations
The commission has no jurisdiction to consider appeals from scores on written examinations. However, persons receiving failing scores on oral tests may appeal to the commission. The appeal must be filed within thirty days of mailing of results, except that the director of Human Resources may reduce the appeal period by appropriate announcement to seven days. The requirements, procedures, and power of the Civil Service Commission are set forth in civil service regulations 9.11 et seq.
Appeals concerning layoffs
Procedures for implementing layoffs are set forth in civil service regulations 16. A laid-off employee may appeal to the commission if the employee believes that the required procedures have not been followed, that the layoff was not in good faith or was otherwise improper. The requirements and procedures of such an appeal are set forth in civil service regulations 16.017.)
Appeals concerning leaves of absence
Generally, the granting or denial of leaves of absence is within the discretion of the appointing authority, subject to the approval of the director of Human Resources. However, in cases where rejection of a request for leave of absence has the effect of causing the employee’s separation from employment, or if an employee’s separation is caused by failure to return from an approved leave of absence, an appeal may be taken to the commission. The requirements and procedures of such an appeal are set forth in civil service regulations 22.021 et seq.
Appeals concerning performance reports
Employees receiving an overall rating of “Improvement Needed” or lower may appeal to the commission after certain requirements have been met. Those requirements and the powers of the Commission on such an appeal are set forth in civil service regulations 23.06 et seq.
Appeals concerning resignations
Employees may appeal to the commission claiming that they have resigned against their will and without just cause. The requirements and procedures of such an appeal are set forth in civil service regulations 15.02.
Procedure for filing an appeal
Appeals may be filed within the required time by receipt at the commission’s office of a written request manifesting an intention to appeal and briefly setting forth the nature of the decision or matter being appealed. You may file or deliver appeals via U.S. mail, email, fax, or hand-deliver to the commission’s office.
The commission has forms for the most common appeals on which information may be provided to establish the commission’s jurisdiction, the timeliness of the appeal, and whether all preliminary requirements have been properly met. Only one appeal form needs to be filed for each appeal; the commission does not require additional copies. There is no charge for filing an appeal. Complete an appeal form.
Failure to file in a timely manner or to comply with appeal requirements may result in rejection of the appeal.
The Civil Service Commission has jurisdiction for hearing the following categories of appeal:
- Findings as to the existence, nature, or service-connection of disabilities by the director of Human Resources or an appointing authority which adversely affects appellant
- Disputes regarding a refusal to return to work when instructed to do so by the Medical Director/City physician or due to a refusal to accept reasonable medical treatment related to an on-duty injury
- Adverse effect due to refusal of an offer of secondary job placement made by the director of Human Resources on basis of claims of disability
- Denial of benefits under regulation 32 (disability) for failure to report earnings as required by regulation
- Dismissals, demotions, reductions in pay, and suspensions of more than ten calendar days in one year, after satisfactory completion of a probationary period
- Failing scores on oral tests on the basis of alleged bias, irregularity, or fraud
- Layoffs on the ground that the required procedure was not complied with or that the layoff was not made in good faith
- Denials of requests for leave of absence or denials of extensions of such leave, where such denial has the effect of causing the employee’s separation from employment
- Overall performance report ratings of “Improvement Needed” or lower
- Resignations where an employee alleges they have been forced to resign against their will and without just cause
The Civil Service Commission does not have jurisdiction to consider appeals from every action considered adverse to employees. Among the more common actions not appealable to the commission are:
- Disqualification of applications (See regulation 8 – Applications).
- Scoring of written examinations (See regulation 9.09 et seq.).
- Issues/complaints regarding promotions (See regulation 11).
- Dismissal or rejection of probationary employee (See regulation 14.042) or probationary performance reports (See regulation 23.062).
- Denial of reinstatement following resignation (See regulation 15.031).
- Separation due to abandonment of position (See regulation 22.01).
Representation and counsel
Appellants may be represented at any and all stages of proceedings before the commission by legal counsel admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or any county thereof or a union representative of any authorized bargaining unit. Appellants desiring to represent themselves will be allowed to do so provided the commission is satisfied that the appellant does not desire a further opportunity to obtain representation.
Service of notices will be provided to counsel only when a written appearance is filed. The filing of an appeal signed by counsel shall be considered an entry of appearance.
Hearings evidence and procedure
- The department, through its representative, shall have the burden of proof in appeals of dismissals, demotions, and suspensions to demonstrate the accuracy of charges against the appellants. In regulation 32.11 appeals, the burden is upon the department to establish that the employee’s disability has ceased or has been modified and that a job was available within the employee’s physical capability to perform. In all other cases, including other disability appeals, the burden of proof shall be upon the appellant. The party with the burden of proof shall have the responsibility of proceeding first; however, the commission may request that the department proceed first only to present the record or other basis upon which it took the action under appeal.
- All hearings shall be recorded. The record shall be transcribed upon request or if an appeal to Court is filed. Copies of notes of testimony may be purchased from the commission. Appellants and their legal representatives may examine the contents of their appeal file upon written request to the commission.
- The department and appellant, or the representative, shall be allowed reasonable opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and object to questions or to the introduction of proposed evidence. All witnesses shall testify under oath or affirmation.
- The parties shall stipulate to all facts not in dispute. If the parties cannot stipulate to any facts, one-page, double-spaced opening statements shall be submitted by both parties in lieu of oral opening arguments, and such statements must be submitted five days prior to the hearing date.
- Technical rules of evidence are not applicable because the proceedings are administrative, and fairness to the appellant and to the department requires that all facts pertaining to the case be presented regardless of any legal, exclusionary rules of evidence. Further protection is afforded to the department and to the appellant by the requirement that findings and decisions of the commission must be in writing.
- All facts and evidence pertaining to the appeal must be presented accordingly:
- Virtual hearing – to the commission and opposing counsel (or appellant, if unrepresented) by email two days prior to the scheduled hearing date. Opening statements must be provided as well. Statements will not be read or heard at the time of the hearing.
- In-person hearing – at the time of the hearing. Five copies of exhibits must be provided at the hearing (four copies for the commission, plus one copy for the opposing party).
- Medical records, reports, and other relevant documents, if requested in writing, must be exchanged prior to the hearing. The commission may request that additional evidence be submitted if it deems such evidence is necessary.
- Exhibits submitted for hearings are public records and must be redacted in accordance with the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania. The following confidential information shall not be included in any document filed with the commission:
- Dates of birth
- Social Security Numbers
- Financial account numbers (exception: an active financial account number may be identified by the last four digits when the financial account is the subject of the case and cannot otherwise be identified)
- Driver license numbers
- State Identification (SID) numbers
- Minors’ names and dates of birth except when a minor is charged as a defendant in a criminal matter (see 42 Pa.C.S. § 6355)
- Abuse victim’s address and other contact information, including employer’s name, address, and work schedule, in family court actions as defined by Pa.R.C.P. No. 1931(a), except for the victim’s name.
- Generally, medical reports and records, properly authenticated, or depositions will be accepted in lieu of a personal appearance by a physician.
- On disability appeals, the commission may not consider evidence that was not submitted at the departmental level and may remand such appeals to the department for reconsideration in light of new evidence.
- All motions and amendments pertaining to the appeal will be considered at the hearing and/or addressed in the written decision.
- After both sides have submitted their case, the commission may hear closing oral arguments from both parties. The commission may, in its discretion, place time limits on closing arguments or may require that arguments, briefs, or memoranda be submitted in writing within a prescribed time. There shall be no rebuttal to closing arguments.
- Continuances may be requested, but shall only be granted for good cause. Requests must be in writing, must be received by the commission at least ten days prior to the hearing date, and must contain the reason for the request and provide dates of availability for the parties. Late requests will be acted on by the commission at the scheduled hearing time. The commission may deny late requests and require that the appeal proceed as scheduled. The commission will not entertain continuance requests for “must-be-heard” listings. Copies of continuance requests must be served on the opposing party or their counsel.
- If any party fails to appear, either in person or by counsel in their absence, the appeal may be disposed of by the commission on its own motion, or upon the appropriate motion of the opposing party. Appeals may be dismissed either with or without prejudice depending upon the circumstances in each case.
- In appropriate instances, the commission, on its own motion, may order impartial medical examinations in disability appeals to aid in its determination of difficult cases.
- Two commissioners shall constitute a quorum for all hearings, except that disability and performance report hearings may be heard by one commissioner.
In accordance with Section 7-201 of the Home Rule Charter, the commission issues written opinions in every appeal within its jurisdiction. However, an appeal may be rejected for lack of jurisdiction without formal opinion. Opinions will be mailed to appellants and their legal counsel by ordinary U.S. mail, postage prepaid, or emailed.
The scope of the commission’s authority in deciding disciplinary appeals is set forth in the Home Rule Charter, Section 7-201.
The commission’s authority in deciding appeals from oral examinations, leaves of absence, and performance reports is carefully limited by civil service regulations 9.11, 22.02, and 23.06.
Rehearings and further appeals
The commission, upon application duly made, may grant a rehearing in any matter. The procedure and grounds, which must be strictly adhered to, are set forth in civil service regulations 17.063 et seq.
Regarding appeals from commission decisions, Section 7-201 of the Home Rule Charter provides:
. . . Findings and decisions of the commission and any action taken in conformance therewith as a result thereof shall be final and there shall be no further appeal on the merits, but there may be appeal to the Courts on jurisdictional or procedural grounds.
Attorneys and other interested persons are directed to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure with Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Rules for the filing of appeals from Administrative Agencies.
Civil service regulations 5.07 and 6.04 provide that the director of Human Resources shall review all appeals to amend the Classification and Pay Plans and shall schedule such appeals for hearing before the commission. Pursuant thereto, the director shall make recommendations for or against any proposed changes in the Classification and Pay Plans and, if the commission approves an amendment thereto, the director of Human Resources must then submit said amendment to the managing director and the director of Finance.
Pursuant to Section 7-200 of the Home Rule Charter, the commission is authorized to advise the mayor and the director of Human Resources of problems concerning Human Resources administration in the City service and is authorized to make investigations which it considers desirable and submit recommendations to the mayor and director of Human Resources.