Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Mary E. Polk, No. B-162373.
Edward Sparkman, for petitioner.
Charles G. Hasson, Assistant Attorney General, with him Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel, and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Mencer, Craig and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 50 Pa. Commw. Page 631]
Claimant Mary Polk appeals from the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review's determination, after remand and rehearing, that she was ineligible for benefits under Section 402(e) of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law, 43 P.S. § 802(e),*fn1 the willful misconduct disqualification, because she failed, without good cause, to comply with her employer's order.
Claimant was employed as a community outreach worker for the Haverford Community Center located at 631 North 39th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Incidents of violence at the center and a shooting in the gymnasium of the facility on March 1, 1978 precipitated the staff's relocation to a satellite facility a few blocks away for a short period. However, on March 16, 1978, the board of directors of the center's
[ 50 Pa. Commw. Page 632]
parent group met and determined that the program be immediately returned to the Haverford Center.
The employer's representative testified that, while the program was located at the satellite facility, safety improvements were made at the center, which included a buzzer system for the door. Periodic surveillance of the building was established, with contacts to a crisis intervention unit and the local police, and a staff member was posted full time at the facility entrance.
On April 21, 1978, the employer sent letters to staff members directing them to report to the Haverford Center on Monday, April 24, 1978, adding, "[T]his memo is to be considered as a termination notice for those failing to return."
Claimant never reported to the Haverford Center. She asserts on appeal, as she did at the remand hearing, that she was afraid to return to the center because her life had been threatened.
The determination of whether an employee's conduct constitutes willful misconduct is made in light of all the circumstances; we evaluate both the reasonableness of the employer's request and the employee's reasons for noncompliance. If there is good cause for the employee's action, it cannot be charged as willful misconduct. Frumento v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 466 Pa. 81, 351 A.2d 631 (1976). In cases like this, where the employee comes forward to justify the violation, the employee has the burden to ...