By Danielle N. Rodier, Of the Legal Staff March 30, 2001 Friday Copyright 2001 American Lawyer Media The Legal Intelligencer March 30, 2001 Friday
(PHILADELPHIA) - Although an arbitrator ruled that a police officer''s charge of possession of an illegal substance should be expunged from his employment records, the city may retain notice of the charge in an Internal Affairs Division record, the majority of an en banc Commonwealth Court has ruled.
Two out of the seven judges on the panel dissented in City of Philadelphia v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, finding that the arbitrator''s ruling that the officer''s record should be expunged "to the fullest extent" naturally included the IAD report. The majority played on the ambiguousness of that phrase, indicating that the arbitrator could have mentioned the IAD file specifically if he intended it to be expunged too. "Without some express basis for intrusion into IAD files, the language of the award here should not be interpreted to indicate an intent to affect matters beyond the narrow question of just cause for termination," Commonwealth Court Judge Doris Smith wrote for the majority. "At most the award was ambiguous on the question of whether the arbitrator intended for the IAD file to be expunged."