If you are a regular status civil service employee, you have a right to appeal your furlough to the State Civil Service Commission (Commission). You must file within twenty (20) calendar days of the date you received the furlough notice. If you submit your appeal during this timeframe, a hearing will be held. At that time representatives of the agency that furloughed you are required to defend the decision to furlough you by showing that their action was based either on a lack of work or a lack of funds.
If you are a probationary status civil service employee and received a furlough notice you may appeal to the Commission, but you must present a claim of discrimination in order to be granted a hearing by the Commission. The discrimination claim must relate to unequal treatment based on one or more of the following: political affiliation, religious opinion, labor union affiliation, race, national origin, sex, age, disability, mistake-of-fact by the agency, illegal procedure followed to implement furlough, or some other basis not related to job performance.
2. If my position is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, can I file a grievance?
If you are in a bargaining unit position, you may be able to file a grievance to challenge your furlough. You will need to contact your union representative to discuss the specific requirements of filing a union grievance. Generally, most contracts prohibit an employee from pursuing both a union grievance and a civil service appeal to challenge the same personnel action. Typically, an attempt to do both will result in the dismissal of your grievance. Therefore, you should carefully consider which option is right for you before filing a civil service appeal.
3. What is the time limit to file my appeal?
Appeals must be postmarked or received at the State Civil Service Commission’s office within twenty (20) calendar days of the date you received the furlough notice, or the date you became aware discrimination in the furlough process occurred. If the appeal is mailed to the Commission, the federal post office postmark will be used to determine the official date of submission of your appeal.
4. How do I file my appeal?
You will need to complete and submit a State Civil Service Commission Appeal Request Form. A copy of this form should be provided to you with your notice of furlough. To obtain a copy of this form and the "Appeals Information Booklet" please visit the Commission’s website at www.scsc.pa.gov under "Hearings and Appeals" and then "Individuals Filing Appeals". The appeal form must be signed and dated by you and must be filled out carefully and completely or the appeal may be delayed or denied by the Commission.
5. What will happen when I file an appeal?
If you are a regular status civil service employee and have submitted your appeal request within the twenty (20) calendar days, the Commission will grant your request for a hearing. You and the agency that furloughed you will be notified by United Parcel Service (UPS) of the date, time, and type of hearing. The hearing will be scheduled as soon as possible.
If you are a probationary status civil service employee, the Commission will grant your request for a hearing only if you have presented an acceptable claim of discrimination. If you are a probationary employee whose appeal request has been denied, you will receive prompt notice of the denial from the Commission and be given an opportunity to seek reconsideration.
6. Will I need an attorney?
Rules of the Commission provide you may represent yourself (pro se) at an appeal hearing. The agency that furloughed you, however, must be represented by an attorney. It may be advantageous for you to have an attorney, but it is certainly not required. You are responsible for securing your own attorney. Many County Bar Associations have a lawyer referral service. The lawyer referral service can assist you in identifying an appropriate attorney, but you are entirely responsible for negotiating and paying the attorney’s fees.
7. What is a civil service hearing?
A civil service hearing follows procedure similar to, but not quite as formal as, a regular court room proceeding. The hearings are open to the public. Witnesses are sworn in, evidence is introduced, and both sides have an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. Presiding over the hearing will be any one or all of the State Civil Service Commissioners, or a Hearing Officer. Statements of witnesses will not be accepted as evidence. If you want a witness to testify, the witness must be at the hearing. If you need a subpoena to require a witness to attend the hearing, the Commission will issue a subpoena for you to serve on the witness.
8. What will happen at my hearing?
If you are a regular status civil service employee who has been furloughed, the agency that furloughed you will have the burden of proof at the hearing. This means the agency will be required to prove your furlough is justified due to either a lack of work or a lack of funds. The agency will also be required to prove to the Commission it followed all of the procedures required in order to properly implement a civil service furlough. As a regular status civil service employee, you will have no burden of proof at the hearing. You will, however, be expected to respond to the agency’s evidence if you dispute its accuracy. You may respond by presenting either documents or testimony of your own.
If you are a probationary status civil service employee who has been furloughed, it will be your responsibility to provide the Commission with evidence that proves your discrimination claim. After you have presented your evidence, the agency that furloughed you will have an opportunity to explain why your furlough is justified either due to a lack of work or a lack of funds. The Commission will then decide whether it believes you were discriminated against or you were properly furloughed.
9. What will happen after the hearing is over?
After a hearing is complete, a transcript will be prepared and submitted to the Commission. Both parties at the hearing may also have an opportunity to present written statements (legal Briefs) which will be due within a period of time established by the Commission after a discussion at the conclusion of the hearing. After the hearing if there are no Briefs, or after the last Brief is received, the record is closed. Following the close of the record, the Commission has ninety (90) calendar days to review the full record and issue a decision. A copy of the Commission’s decision will be mailed to the parties and the attorneys involved in the hearing. A copy of the decision will also be posted on the State Civil Service Commission’s website at www.scsc.pa.gov under "Hearings and Appeals" and then "Civil Service Adjudications".
10. If I change my mind after filing an appeal, can my appeal be withdrawn?
Yes, you can withdraw your appeal any time prior to a final decision by the Commission. However, if you withdraw your appeal, that will be a final decision and, barring extraordinary circumstances, the Commission will not allow you to resubmit an appeal.
11. If I win at my hearing, what will happen?
The Commission will order you be reinstated to the position you had with the agency with backpay, benefits and restored seniority for all of the time you were furloughed.
12. If I lose my appeal, what can I do?
Every decision made by the Commission can be appealed to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. That appeal must be filed within thirty (30) calendar days after the date our decision is mailed to you. In addition, you may also request the Commission reconsider its decision. You must make the request to the Commission within fifteen (15) calendar days after the date our decision is mailed to you.
13. My furlough involves an issue arising from my "bumping" rights, either because I was improperly "bumped" from my job, or because I believe I had the right to "bump" someone else from theirs. Will the Commission decide this issue if I appeal?
No, the Commission will not review that issue. Act 71 of 2018 and Rules of the Commission make no mention whatsoever of "bumping." Such rights, if any exist, are exclusively a product of collective bargaining and are provided for only in the union contract. If the primary basis for your appeal involves an issue arising from an alleged error in how "bumping" was used in your furlough, you should file a union grievance appeal, not a civil service appeal.
14. If I have more questions, who can I contact?
You can contact the Commission’s Legal Services Office with any additional procedural questions; the Commission cannot provide legal advice. You can contact us by sending an e-mail to the following address:
email@example.com; or by calling 717-783-2924.