Michael A. Donadee, Shari F. Shink, Neighborhood Legal Services, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Sydney Reuben, Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, Charles G. Hasson, Asst. Attys. Gen., Harrisburg, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Packel, JJ. Packel, former, J., did not participate in the decision of this case.
Appellant was discharged by his employer, Perlite Manufacturing Company, on March 19, 1975. Both the hearing referee and the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review found appellant ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law Act of December 5, 1936, P.L. (1937) 2897 as amended, 43 P.S. § 802(e). The decision was affirmed by order of the Commonwealth Court, and we granted appellant's petition for allowance of appeal.
Section 402(e) of the Act provides that an employee shall be ineligible for compensation for any week
"(e) in which his unemployment is due to his discharge or temporary suspension from work for wilfull misconduct connected with his work . . . ."
The Board found that appellant had wilfully refused to perform his duties. Appellant, however, argues that his conduct did not constitute wilful misconduct within the meaning of the statute, and that the employer, having the burden of proving wilful misconduct, failed to meet its burden of proof.
The question of whether or not an employee's actions constitute wilful misconduct is a question of law, subject to our review. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Cardellino, 24 Pa. Commw. 617, 357 A.2d 710 (1976); Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Crilly, 25 Pa. Commw. 21, 358 A.2d 739 (1976); Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Walton, 21 Pa. Commw. 47, 343 A.2d 70 (1975). The determination must be made in light of all the circumstances, including not only the employee's noncompliance with an employer's directive but also the reasons for that noncompliance. Frumento v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 466 Pa. 81, 351 A.2d 631 (1976).
We have adopted as the definition of "wilful misconduct" the Superior Court's definition in Moyer Unemployment Compensation Case, 177 Pa. Super. 72, 74, 110 A.2d 753, 754 (1955):
"'Willful misconduct' . . . has been held to comprehend an act of wanton or willful disregard of the employer's interest, a deliberate violation of the employer's rules, a disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has a right to expect of an employee, or negligence indicating an intentional disregard of the employer's ...