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GESTO POSSANZA v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/17/79)

decided: May 17, 1979.

GESTO POSSANZA, 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 Gesto Possanza, No. B-146363.

COUNSEL

William F. Bradican, for petitioner.

Michael D. Klein, Assistant Attorney General, with him Edward G. Biester, Jr., Acting Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 621]

Gesto Possanza (claimant) appeals from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which affirmed a denial of unemployment compensation benefits on the grounds that he was discharged for willful misconduct.

The claimant was employed as a truck driver by Dempsey Textile Rental Services (employer) when in the course of making a delivery, on January 31, 1977, he discovered a wire lying across a road on a customer's premises. He testified that he reported this fact to an official at the customer's premises, but did not report it to his employer or fill out an accident report for his employer concerning it. On the same date, an official of the customer telephoned the employer and informed him of the incident, evidently indicating that the claimant had knocked the wire down. The employer advised him that the company required

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 622]

    a bill stating the damages suffered and that he would need a written statement that the driver had caused the wire to fall, and on February 25, 1977, the required bill and a letter, stating only that the claimant had reported to the customer's official that the wire was down, were received. On the same date the employer discharged the claimant citing his failure to file an accident report as required by company rules. When claimant filed an application for unemployment benefits, it was denied by the Bureau of Employment Security (Bureau) on the grounds that he was ineligible under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law*fn1 because his discharge, was due to willful misconduct. After a hearing before a referee the Bureau's decision was affirmed. The claimant appealed to the Board which also affirmed the denial of benefits and this appeal then followed.

Our scope of review is, of course, limited to a determination as to whether or not the decision of the Board was supported by substantial evidence and was in accordance with the law and as to whether or not the claimant's constitutional rights were violated. 2 Pa. C.S. § 704. And a finding of willful misconduct is essentially a legal conclusion which this Court also may reach. Horace W. Longacre, Inc. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 176, 316 A.2d 110 (1974).

In order to establish willful misconduct sufficient to justify the denial of benefits it must be shown that the employee's act or course of conduct was in wanton or willful disregard of the employer's interest, a deliberate

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 623]

    violation of the employer's rules, a disregard of the standards of behavior which the employer can rightfully expect from the employee or negligence which manifests culpability, wrongful intent, evil design or intentional and substantial disregard for the employer's interest or the employee's duties and obligations. Kentucky Fried Chicken of Altoona, ...


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