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ST. JOSEPH'S HOSPITAL v. PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD (06/03/77)

decided: June 3, 1977.

ST. JOSEPH'S HOSPITAL, APPELLEE,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

James L. Crawford, Raymond W. Cromer, James F. Wildeman, Asst. Attys. Gen., for appellant.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Thomas H. Lane, John D. Thrush, Harrisburg, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Nix, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Jones, former C. J., did not participate in the decision of this case.

Author: Manderino

[ 473 Pa. Page 102]

OPINION

On November 8, 1971, two nurses then employed by St. Joseph Hospital were discharged, allegedly for insubordination. On December 7, 1971, and on December 20, 1971, the two nurses, Janet Hutchison and Diane Lesko,

[ 473 Pa. Page 103]

    respectively filed, through their union, The Pennsylvania Nurses Association, unfair labor practice complaints with the Pennsylvania Labor Relation Board (Board). The complaints alleged that their discharge was a direct result of their participation in union organizing activities and not because of insubordination. The Board issued complaints on both charges on December 30, 1971, and St. Joseph Hospital answered denying any discriminatory motive. A hearing was held, and a decision and order was entered on May 12, 1972, finding St. Joseph Hospital's discharge of the two nurses was an unfair labor practice in violation of Section 1201 of the Public Employee Relations Act, Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563 (43 P.S. § 1101.1201). Exceptions to the findings of fact and conclusions of law were filed by St. Joseph Hospital and dismissed by the Board. St. Joseph Hospital then filed a petition for review with the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, which, by order dated August 10, 1972, allowed the taking of additional testimony. Thereafter, on December 21, 1972, a second petition for review of the Board's order was filed in the Court of Common Pleas by St. Joseph Hospital. On December 6, 1973, the Court, after considering the additional testimony, dismissed the petition and granted enforcement of the final order of the Board. St. Joseph Hospital then appealed to the Commonwealth Court which, by opinion dated December 27, 1974, reversed the Court of Common Pleas and the Board, and held that St. Joseph Hospital was not guilty of any unfair labor practice in its dismissal of nurses Hutchison and Lesko. St. Joseph Hospital v. P. L. R. B., 16 Pa. Commw. 533, 330 A.2d 561 (1974). The Board's petition for allowance of appeal to this Court was granted and this appeal followed.

[ 473 Pa. Page 104]

The only questions raised by this appeal are whether the findings of fact made by the Board, and the inferences and conclusions drawn by the Board from those facts, are supported by "substantial evidence." See Pa. Page 104} Labor Rel. Bd. v. Sands Rest. Corp., 429 Pa. 479, 240 A.2d 801 (1968); Pa. Labor Rel. Bd. v. Kaufmann Dept. Stores, 345 Pa. 398, 29 A.2d 90 (1942). The Commonwealth Court concluded that they were not. We do not agree, and therefore reverse the order of the Commonwealth Court and reinstate the order of the Court of Common Pleas.

Our analysis begins, of course, with some basics. The complaints alleged unfair labor practices in violation of the Public Employee Relations Act, Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563, No. 195 (43 P.S. § 1101.101). The complainant in an unfair labor practice suit has the burden of proving the charges alleged. Union Trust Company of Pittsburgh's Petition, 342 Pa. 456, 20 A.2d 779 (1941). On review, the appellate court must examine the entire record. PLRB v. Ficon, 434 Pa. 383, 254 A.2d 3 (1969). The scope of the appellate court's review is limited to a determination of whether the findings of the Board are supported by "substantial evidence," and "whether the conclusions drawn from those facts are reasonable and not capricious, arbitrary, or illegal." Pa. Labor Rel. Bd. v. Sands Rest. Corp., 429 Pa. 479, 240 A.2d 801 (1968); Pa. Labor Rel. Bd. v. Kaufmann Dept. Stores, 345 Pa. 398, 29 A.2d 90 (1942). Determinations of which witnesses are credible, and the weight, if any, to be given to a particular witness's testimony are properly to be made by the Board, not the courts. As we stated in Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Butz, 411 Pa. 360, 375, 192 A.2d 707, 715 (1963):

"A reviewing Court is always hesitant to upset the factual findings of a jury or even of a judge sitting without a jury because of the difficulty of ascertaining from the bare words of the record the nuances that might well overturn any credit that might be given to the spoken word. Such is particularly true in the review of findings of ...


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