The state Department of Revenue can fire its mid-level supervisors for good reasons or bad because Pennsylvania is an at-will state, but the Constitution prevents the agency from firing supervisors for political reasons, a lawyer for a former supervisor said Tuesday.
Terrence J. Kennelly, 53, of Shaler is suing the agency to get his job back as well as compensatory and punitive damages. His lawyer, Tim O'Brien, said that while the courts have upheld political firings in top policy-making positions, they have ruled firings in non-policy positions unconstitutional.
Kennelly was a district office supervisor for the Revenue Department's Pittsburgh sub-office and did "virtually no policy making at all," O'Brien said. After the agency fired Kennelly in August, it didn't advertise the position before replacing him with Monroeville Councilman Bernhard Erb, 47, a Republican, O'Brien said.
"That kind of raises an issue," he said.
Elizabeth Brassell, an agency spokeswoman, said the agency is constantly upgrading its staff. The administration hasn't seen the lawsuit but believes it will turn out to be frivolous, she said.
"We're confident we've done nothing wrong," she said.
Amy Emili, 48, of Jeannette, the former district office supervisor for the agency's Greensburg office, claims in a separate pending federal lawsuit that the Corbett administration fired her and three other administrators who are Democrats to make way for Republicans.
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