Thursday, December 07, 2006

employment - lie detectors - firefighters

City of Pittsburgh v. Bachner et al. - Commonwealth Court - November 30, 2006

Applicants for firefighter positions with city challenged "just cause" determinations under 53 P.S. 23493.1(a) to reject their applications, and the use of lie detector tests involved in the city's passing over their applications for employment as firefighters

Held, just cause provision gives a right to placement on hiring list, unless there is just cause for disqualification, but just cause provision does not give candidates the right to challenge information gathering procedures to determine if just cause exists.

Here, the applicants' right to placement was affected ony by information they provided, and they retained the right to challenge their disqualifications and argue that they are not supported by just cause. The court discussed the Lie Detector Test Law, 18 Pa. C.S. 7321, which generally prohibits the use of lie detectors in employment situations, except in matters involving public law enforcement personnel or people whose job gives them access to narcotics or dangerour drugs, 18 Pa. C.S. 7321(b). The latter was conceded in this case.

employment - application - false information - police job

Salters v. State Police - Commonwealth Coourt - November 29, 2006

A false statement on an application for police certification was alone enough to disqualify an applicant, in spite of the police chief's alleged advice to applicant to lie. Applicant was required to get a psych. evaluation. The first one showed that he was a "psychological risk." A second one had no such finding. Applicant mentioned only the second evaluation on his certification application, on which he made a verified statement that there had been no other psych. evaluations.

Amendments to the charges made more than 30 days in advance of the hearing wre held to not violate due process/notice requirements, citing general admin. rules of procedures, 1 Pa. Code 35.1 et seq., and the relative simplicity of the issues. The court also rejected applicant's argument that only agency heads who are attorneys can adjudicate administrative decisions.