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JOHN BUSH v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/04/80)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: January 4, 1980.

JOHN BUSH, 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 John Bush, No. B-159868.

COUNSEL

Rosalia Goode Parker, for petitioner.

Charles G. Hasson, Assistant Attorney General, with him, Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel, Edward G. Biester, Jr., for respondent.

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

Author: Wilkinson

[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 292]

This is an appeal from a decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review disallowing the appeal filed by claimant from a decision of a referee that found claimant ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits as a result of his willful misconduct pursuant to 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.

The referee made the following two crucial findings of fact:

3. Claimant used profanity on the job.

7. Claimant altered the employer's records without authority prior to quitting time.

It is clear from the referee's discussion that claimant's alteration of records and his use of profanity on the job constituted disqualifying willful misconduct.

The record reveals that the claimant, during his employment, had received warnings regarding his work performance including using profanity on the job. Claimant admittedly used profanity on the job. On January 16, 1978 claimant altered the employer's records without authority. Claimant also admits to this act. Claimant's conduct was a disregard of the standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of an employee. . . .

Unprovoked abusive or offensive language may constitute willful misconduct. See e.g., Gallagher v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 42 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 344, 400 A.2d 926 (1979); and

[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 293]

    actions, knowingly taken without authority and in contravention of a procedure with which he was fully familiar, constitutes a clear breach of the standard of behavior an employer may rightfully expect of its employees and is therefore sufficient to support a finding of willful misconduct.

In the present context, where the interests of patients may be at stake above and beyond any economic interest of the employer, an assurance that employees will conduct themselves prudently and within the bounds of acceptable behavior is especially vital. The potentially devastating consequences which could attend the unauthorized actions of hospital employees can be readily appreciated.

Claimant's argument that the findings of fact are supported by evidence which is not legally competent, i.e., hearsay properly objected to, can be disposed of quickly. The findings from which the conclusion of willful misconduct was drawn -- claimant's use of profanity on the job and his unauthorized alteration of hospital records -- is established by claimant's own testimony. Here, as recently occurred in Belton v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 43 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 438, 402 A.2d 571 (1979), claimant's own testimony supports the critical findings of fact which might otherwise have been susceptible to challenge under the rule stated in Walker v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 27 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 522, 367 A.2d 366 (1976).

Accordingly, we will enter the following

Order

And Now, January 4, 1980, the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review at decision No. B-159868, dated June 9, 1978, sustaining a denial of benefits by a referee to claimant, John Bush, is hereby affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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