Did Caseworker's Failure to Document (Maintain Records) Jeopardized Children ?
In Greene County v. Dist 2, United Mine Workers of Am., 578 Pa. 347, 361, 852 A.2d 299, 308 (2004), there was no crime committed, but a Children and Youth Services caseworker violated written policy and state regulations by repeated failure to maintain records.
The court concluded the caseworker's serious and chronic failure to document went to the core function of the public agency and jeopardized children the agency was charged to protect.
In vacating the arbitrator's award in favor of the caseworker, the court explained:
The rationale expressed in our decision in City of Easton is rooted, in part, in the unique nature of the public employer in our Commonwealth.
Unlike private sector employers, public employers are ultimately responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of our communities.
Due to their unique nature and role, public employers must be able to perform the functions they are charged to carry out by our citizenry.
Consistent with this status, our Court has recognized that public employers cannot be compelled in arbitration to relinquish powers that are essential to the proper discharge of their functions.
Thus, while as a general proposition, an arbitrator has broad authority to interpret an undefined provision regarding termination for just cause in a collective bargaining agreement, to permit an arbitrator to interpret the agreement as to require reinstatement of an employee who was determined to have engaged in egregious misconduct that strikes at the very core function of the public enterprise would be to deprive the employer of its ability to discharge that essential function.
An arbitrator's award granting reinstatement in such a situation would not be rational and would therefore fail the essence test. 578 Pa. at 362, 852 A.2d at 308.