The Objective Test In Pennsylvania

In Phillips v. State Ethics Comm'n, 79 Pa. Commw. 491, 470 A.2d 659 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1984), the Court approved the "objective test" utilized by the Commission to determine whether an employee falls within the definition of public employee. Under the objective test, an employee's duties and responsibilities as set forth in job specifications or job description, rather than actual duties and responsibilities performed by the employee, determine whether the employee is a public employee. The job specifications submitted to the Commission set forth the following duties and responsibilities of the caseworkers: Eligibility determination work involves interviewing clients in the office and in the field and investigating resources to secure, evaluate and interpret data essential to making a decision on eligibility. Employees assess clients' social service and employment needs, and provide clients or their families with information on community resources for social and employment services. Work is distinguished from that of the next lower level by the level of supervision. Supervision involves selective review of cases assigned to the worker. Responsibility for determination or redetermination action rests with the worker. ... Work is performed in accordance with established policies and procedures under the general supervision of an Income Maintenance Casework Supervisor or other administrative supervisor. R.R. at 3a. The caseworkers must be able "to learn the policies, rules and regulations pertaining to income maintenance programs." Id. at 4. In addition, they must have an ability "to exercise sound judgment in differing circumstances and to act in a responsible and professional manner in stressful or unpleasant situations." Id.