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ST. JOSEPH HOSPITAL v. PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/27/74)

decided: December 27, 1974.

ST. JOSEPH HOSPITAL, APPELLANT,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE, AND PENNSYLVANIA NURSES ASSOCIATION, INTERVENING APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County in case of Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. St. Joseph's Hospital, No. 448 July Term, 1972.

COUNSEL

Thomas H. Lane, with him John D. Thrush, George I. Puhak and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, for appellant.

James F. Wildeman, with him James L. Crawford, for appellee.

Wallace B. Eldridge, III, with him William Fearen and Cleckner & Fearen, for intervenor.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 535]

Janet Hutchinson and Diane Lesko were employed as nurses by St. Joseph Hospital (Hospital) in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, until November 8, 1971. On that date at about 7:00 A.M. they reported for work in the Intensive Care Unit (I.C.U.), where there were two patients there to be attended, and where two other nurses were then on duty, Sister Eligia, who was the supervisor of the I.C.U. and Nurse Kessel. Nurse Kessel left immediately to report to the third floor. Within ten minutes Nurse Lesko answered a telephone call from Sister Mary Nathaneal, the Director of Nursing Service at the Hospital, who ordered that either Nurse Lesko or Nurse Hutchinson also report to the third floor to help patients there. Nurse Lesko questioned this directive and pointed out that Nurse Kessel had already left the I.C.U. to help on the third floor and that a third patient was expected in the I.C.U. later in the morning. Sister Nathaneal replied that she was aware of these facts but that she still wanted another nurse to report to the third floor at once. Despite this instruction, neither Nurse Lesko nor Nurse Hutchinson reported to the third floor at that time. Instead, after waiting for a few minutes, they had Sister Nathaneal paged, and, when she arrived at the I.C.U. at about 7:30 A.M. they

[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 536]

    indicated their reluctance to leave the I.C.U. because of their concern that it would be understaffed. By this time Sister Nathaneal had become very upset about the fact that her order had not been obeyed and, after she had restated her awareness of the conditions in the I.C.U. and had acknowledged that she would bear the responsibility for any consequences, her order was finally carried out at about 7:45 A.M. Later that day, at about 3:15 P.M., Nurses Lesko and Hutchinson were summoned to Sister Nathaneal's office and were then advised that they were being discharged for "insubordination."

Both nurses discharged had participated in the organizing activities of the Pennsylvania Nurses Association (PNA) during its successful campaign to achieve certification as the bargaining representative for the registered nurses at the Hospital, and the representation election had been held on August 12, 1971. The PNA filed charges of unfair labor practice against the Hospital with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (Board), and alleged that the discharges of Nurses Lesko and Hutchinson had been directly related to their earlier organizing activities. Following a hearing before a hearing examiner, the Board issued a nisi decision containing findings of fact and conclusions of law to the effect that the Hospital had engaged in an unfair labor practice in violation of Sections 1201(a)(1) and (3) of the Public Employe Relations Act, Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563, 43 P.S. § 1101.1201(a)(1) and (3). The Board ordered the Hospital to cease and desist from any further such violations and to offer the two nurses reinstatement along with back pay. On appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County the Board was affirmed and the Hospital has now appealed to this Court.

Our scope of review here is ". . . limited to a determination of whether the findings of the Labor Board

[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 537]

    are supported by substantial and legally credible evidence and whether the conclusions deduced therefrom are reasonable and not capricious, arbitrary or illegal." Canon-McMillan School Board v. Commonwealth, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 323, 325, 316 A.2d 114, 115 (1974); Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. State College Area School District, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 229, 233, 306 A.2d 404, 407 (1973). "Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla and must do more than create a suspicion of the existence of the fact to be established. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Kaufmann Department Stores, Inc., 345 Pa. 398, 29 A.2d 90 (1942). It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Ronnie's Bar, Inc. v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 411 Pa. 459, 192 A.2d 664 (1963). However, if a reasonable man could not have reached the decision from the evidence and its inferences, then the decision is not supported by ...


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