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NEHI BOTTLING COMPANY v. UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD REVIEW COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA. NEHI BOTTLING COMPANY (11/30/76)

decided: November 30, 1976.

NEHI BOTTLING COMPANY
v.
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA. NEHI BOTTLING COMPANY, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of John Edward Ritz, No. B-129451.

COUNSEL

Bernard T. John, with him Ray, Buck, Margolis, Mahoney & John, for appellant.

Sandra S. Christianson, Assistant Attorney General, with her Sydney Reuben, Assistant Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellee.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 252]

John E. Ritz, an unemployment compensation claimant, was discharged from employment by the Nehi Bottling Company on August 14, 1975, because he threatened a co-worker (shop steward) with bodily injury. After his discharge, the claimant was denied unemployment compensation by the Bureau of Employment Security under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law, Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. 802(e), which renders a claimant ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits if discharge from employment is due to "willful misconduct" connected with his work. This denial was affirmed by the Referee. The Unemployment Compensation Board of Review reversed after hearing, concluding that:

[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 253]

A thorough review of the entire record has convinced this Board that the claimant's threat cannot be considered willful misconduct in that he made his threat only after repeated harassment by the co-worker to whom the threat was directed. That co-worker, aware of the employer's animosity towards the claimant, constantly badgered the claimant and on the claimant's last day of work, maliciously and profanely told the claimant that he had been fired. That statement was totally false. The claimant reacted by threatening the co-worker with harm if his efforts to discredit him resulted in his losing his job. The threat, although prompted by an on-the-job event, was in no way harmful to the employer's interest. There was no altercation on the job and the threat was never carried through.

Nehi Bottling Company appeals the Board decision which we now affirm.

In the absence of fraud, our scope of review in unemployment compensation cases is limited to questions of law and whether the Board's findings are supported by the evidence on record. Questions of credibility and the weight to be given evidence are for the Board to determine. Furthermore, the party for whom the Board finds favorably is to be given the benefit of any inferences which can be reasonably and logically drawn from the evidence. Wilson v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 15 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 314, 325 A.2d 500 (1974).

This Court has held, on several occasions, that a threat by an employee to his superiors constitutes "willful misconduct." Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Lee, 20 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 154, 340 A.2d 586 (1975); Wilson, supra. However, in neither Lee nor Wilson were there findings by the Board indicating calculated and purposeful harassment

[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 254]

    of a claimant which ultimately resulted in the levied threat.*fn1 In the present case, the findings of fact made by the Board point to concerted efforts of harassment not only by the shop steward but also by Mr. Pusateri, ...


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