Friday, March 23, 2018

SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY FOR MY PENNSYLVANIA CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION APPEAL HEARING?

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You Should Consider Hiring Counsel Before You File a Pennsylvania Civil Service Act Appeal


If You are Employed by the Commonwealth,
You May have a Right to Contest and Negative Employment Action
In filing the appeal, it is critical that you raise every legal issue you intend to have considered by the Commission.  Issues that are not raised in the appeal will be deemed waived. It is very difficult for the average person to know what issues to raise, and judgment is usually clouded by emotion.  That is why it is an excellent idea to hire an attorney to assist you in preparing the appeal.


Can I Conduct Discovery Before the Start of a Pennsylvania Civil Service Hearing?

You can ask the Commission to issue a subpoena to the employer or to third-parties requesting the production of documents prior to the start of the hearing.


I Obtain Substantial Discovery During Pre-Hearing Conference
In addition, the Commonwealth is required to provide you with a list of witnesses before the start of the hearing.

In cases where you have retained counsel and he/she has entered his/her appearance, a Pre-Hearing Conference will be held by the Commission and your attorney will be able to determine a good deal about the evidence the Commonwealth intends to produce at the hearing (I do not know if this Conference takes place if you do not have an attorney, although I do not think that it always does).

How Does a Lawyer Help Me During a Pennsylvania Civil Service Hearing?

Any employee granted a civil service hearing is entitled to be represented by counsel. Based upon my experience, and for reasons discussed below, it is my view that obtaining counsel to represent you in a civil service hearing is critically important.

First, it is imperative to understand that in a case involving discipline imposed by the Commonwealth, the employer has the burden of producing competent evidence, via testimony and documents, of the employee’s wrongdoing.  In other words, the employer must present its case first!  If the employer does not meet its burden, the employee does not need to produce any evidence.  However, only an attorney will know if the Commonwealth has met its burden of production…


Exclusion of Sketchy, Prejudicial Evidence and
Rigorous Cross-Examination of Employer Witnesses Key to Success
I most frequently win hearings by excluding evidence (such as hearsay and irrelevant matters), and by cross-examining witnesses to expose inconsistencies, implausabilities and weaknesses.  This is what I am trained to do; employ the Rules of Evidence, review documents while hearing testimony explaining their meaning and asking questions designed to undo the employer’s case.

Invoking the Rules of Evidence and subjecting the employer’s witness to searching cross-examination are by far the most crucial tasks that lead to a win or a loss.  Few civilians are equipped to do so.

Once the employer’s case is finished, the employee must provide evidence explaining why he/she did not engage in the acts he/she is accused of, or must prove that the acts did not violate a given company policy.  This is exceptionally hard to do without counsel.

It is extremely difficult to present testimony without an advocate. Imagine having to sit there and precisely detail all of the crucial evidence that you believe is important for the Commissioner’s consideration. Not only must you have prepared extensively before the start of the hearing but you must be prepared to adapt --because the evidence presented during any legal proceeding is rarely in line with what you believe the evidence will be at the outset of the hearing.

Further, even if you are able to present relevant evidence that is helpful in a clear fashion, you must then be able to withstand cross-examination by the Commonwealth’s attorney, who makes his or her living cross-examining people like you that have never been in front of the Civil Service Commission. Further, you will thereafter be subjected to questions from the presiding Commissioner(s)  or hearing officer. The normal human instinct is to be agreeable in such settings but, I have found, agreeable folks often make admissions that are used against them in a dispositive fashion.

The hearing is transcribed, so it is important that you make all necessary objections based upon evidentiary rules such as relevance, hearsay, etc. If you do not make appropriate objections at the hearing, those objections will be deemed waived for further purposes of the appeal.

Is it a Good Idea to Hire Counsel for a Pennsylvania Civil Service Hearing?

Attending an important civil service hearing without legal counsel is in essence a losing proposition. These are sophisticated hearings, and the attorneys that represent the Commonwealth do so constantly. Therefore, it’s a good idea to think carefully about hiring an attorney before you even file your appeal, since the whole case is based upon the way you lay out your appeal at the very outset.


Representing Pennsylvania's Workforce Since 1991

Philadelphia Area Civil Service Act Lawyer Representing Employees at                      Hearings Before Civil Service Commission

John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania. 

John typically represents workers who need an employment lawyer in Philadelphia County, Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Berks County, Lancaster County and Montgomery County.

Pennsylvania Civil Service Act Employment Attorney Provides Free Telephone Consultations (15 Minutes in Duration)

If you are looking for an employment lawyer, and live in Paoli, Frazer, Exton, Malver, Downingtown, Oxfords, Kennett Square,  King of Prussia, Broomall, Newtown Square, Springfield, Media, Upper Providence, Nether Providence, Wayne, Villanova, Devon, Bryn Mawr, Flourtown, Collegeville, Lansdale, Doylestown, Chalfont or any of their surrounding towns, feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call.  I am always glad to spend some time with people via a free telephone consultation.

Need an Experienced Lawyer for a Civil Service Hearing in Harrisburg?

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues

Click Here to e-mail John directly; Mr. Gallagher has handled hundreds of Administrative Hearings throughout Pennsylvania.

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