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AULT UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION CASE. (01/18/60)

January 18, 1960

AULT UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION CASE.


Appeal, No. 54, May T., 1959, from judgment of Superior Court, March T., 1958, No. 57, affirming decision of Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. B-45692, in re claim of Paul E. Ault. Judgment reversed. Same case in Superior Court: 188 Pa. Super.Ct. 260. Proceeding in Superior Court on appeal from Unemployment Compensation Board of Review. Superior Court affirmed decision, opinion by WOODSIDE, J. Appeal to Supreme Court allowed.

COUNSEL

Sidney G. Handler, with him John P. Campana, and Goldberg, Feller & Bredhoff (of the Washington. D.C. Bar), for claimant, appellant.

Sydney Reuben, Assistant Attorney General, with him Anne X. Alpern, Attorney General, for Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, appellee.

William H. Wood, with him Leon D. Metzger, and Hull, Leiby and Metzger, for employer, intervening appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Jones and Bok, JJ.

Author: Bok

[ 398 Pa. Page 251]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BOK

The question is whether respondent is entitled to unemployment compensation benefits or was guilty of wilful misconduct connected with his work under Section 402(e) of the Act of December 5, 1936, P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. ยง 802(e).

The chronology of events is as follows:

On December 8, 1954, appellant was summoned to appear before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the United States Senate. At this hearing one Thomas, a member of the Communist Party reporting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, identified appellant as an active Communist Party member and organizer between 1946 and 1952. Both men worked for Bethlehem Steel Company, appellant as a wire driller. When called upon to testify, he took the protection of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and refused to say whether he was or had ever been a Communist or whether he had ever given to the Party information about the internal conditions at Bethlehem Steel. At one point in the hearing he jumped up and shouted that Thomas was a "lying stoolpigeon".

On December 13, 1954, the Acting Director of the Senate Committee notified the Secretary of Defense

[ 398 Pa. Page 252]

    that in the Committee's opinion persons who invoked the Fifth Amendment were not suitable employes in a defense plant and recommended that the Secretary withdraw defense contracts from any corporation employing Communists or those who refused to affirm or deny their subversive connections. The Acting Director also sent to Bethlehem Steel a copy of the testimony and a copy of his letter to the Secretary of Defense.

On December 14, 1954, the Company sent to appellant a notice reading: "You are hereby suspended and it is the intention of the Company to discharge you five days from the date of this notice." This was in accordance with the Company's labor contract. A copy was sent to the Acting Director of the Senate Committee.

On December 16, 1954, appellant asked for hearing on his suspension.

On December 18, 1954, the Company sent notice to appellant of a hearing to be held December 28th and gave as its reasons for suspending him: (1) that he was a security risk, (2) that he had engaged in conduct detrimental to the business interests of the Company.

On December 28, 1954, the hearing was held. It consisted largely of the presiding officer's offering appellant opportunity to show cause why he should not be discharged and of appellant's refusing to do so until he had been given proof of the charges. The following statement by him is indicative: "He [Young, who signed the Company's letter stating the reasons for suspension] accuses me of being a security risk. I say I am not a security risk. And ...


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