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PHILADELPHIA—The firing of a workers compensation judge for packing a pistol at work was appropriate, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled in a decision published Wednesday.
The state appellate court's decision in Peter E. Perry vs. State Civil Service upholds Mr. Perry's removal from his job in 2010 as a workers compensation judge and manager with Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry.
A state civil service commission had determined that the labor department proved it had just cause for Judge Perry's firing based on credible evidence that he possessed a holstered handgun in his office, left a handgun in his vehicle while parked on L&I property, and showed the weapon to a subordinate while in his car.
The commission determined his conduct violated a formal L&I management policy banning workplace weapons possession.
The conduct included allegations that while giving the subordinate a lift from a 2009 monthly work meeting Mr. Perry showed her a gun.
“Five to 10 minutes into the ride, Perry advised (her) he had his licensed weapon under the driver’s seat of the vehicle,” court records state.
A January 2010 L&I letter advised Mr. Perry he would be terminated. Among other reasons, the letter said showing a gun to the subordinate while in his car caused fear.
“Further, your actions have demonstrated that (L&I) can no longer depend upon your judgment to make sound choices and appropriately carry out (the organization’s goals) with integrity,” the letter said.
In its findings, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania agreed with L&I’s assessment that Mr. Perry’s actions “rendered him unfit for (WCJ) Manager employment” because as a supervisor he would be expected to enforce workplace policies.
The court rejected Mr. Perry’s arguments that he was removed from his job because of discrimination and that his actions—after a 30-year, unblemished work record—did not constitute just cause for termination.