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PHAETHON WILLIAMS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/22/78)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: March 22, 1978.

PHAETHON WILLIAMS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT

Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Phaethon Williams, No. B-133188.

COUNSEL

David A. Scholl, for petitioner.

Michael Klein, Assistant Attorney General, with him Sydney Reuben, Assistant Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 34 Pa. Commw. Page 641]

This appeal has been brought by Phaethon Williams (claimant) from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirming a referee's denial of benefits based on willful misconduct under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law, Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. ยง 802(e). We affirm.

In December 1975, claimant was a custodial worker for Pennsylvania Hospital. As a result of an automobile accident, claimant was absent from work from December 6, 1975 until January 27, 1976. In mid-January 1976, he was examined by a physician for his employer and certified as fit for light work.

Claimant returned to work on January 27 but only worked until February 5, 1976. On February 7, he was readmitted to the hospital, and his supervisor, Mr. Wilson, was personally notified of this fact by claimant's brother. The brother testified that he was told by Mr. Wilson "to contact him when he gets out of the hospital. . . ." Mr. Williamson, assistant personnel director at the hospital, testified: "[W]e did ask that he keep in touch with us regarding his confinement and when he was able to work to let us know,

[ 34 Pa. Commw. Page 642]

    to let us know what has happened."*fn1 Although claimant left the hospital on February 19, 1976, he had no contact with his employer until March 21, 1976, over one month later, when Mr. Wilson called him.*fn2 He told Mr. Wilson that he would return to work in a couple of weeks. On March 23, claimant was discharged for his failure to maintain any contact with his employer during this extended period of absence.

When the referee and the Board denied benefits, this appeal was brought. Claimant has raised the arguments here that (1) the findings of fact are not supported by substantial evidence and (2) the findings of fact do not support the conclusion of willful misconduct.

Willful misconduct has been defined to include a disregard of the standards of behavior an employer has the right to expect of his employees. Williams v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 32 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 641, 380 A.2d 932 (1977). Failure to follow the employer's instructions concerning the reporting of absences may constitute such a disregard.

[ 34 Pa. Commw. Page 643]

Azar v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 34 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 23, 382 A.2d 995 (1978); Chiango v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 33 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 610, 382 A.2d 789 (1978). The failure to follow an employer's specific instruction to give a status report during the employee's absence is no less blameworthy.

Here, claimant was instructed to keep his superior informed of his condition.*fn3 His failure to do so evidences the kind of disregard of rightfully expected behavioral standards which will disqualify a claimant from receiving unemployment compensation benefits.

Since the findings made by the Board are supported by substantial evidence, we affirm.

Order

And Now, this 22nd day of March, 1978, the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, dated August 5, 1976, denying benefits to Phaethon Williams, is hereby affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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