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THEODORE A. SISAK v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/27/80)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: October 27, 1980.

THEODORE A. SISAK, 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 Theodore Sisak, No. B-171575.

COUNSEL

Richelle D. Hittinger, with her, William G. Kozub, Kashkashian, Kellis, Kozub & Krant, for petitioner.

Karen Durkin, Assistant Attorney General, with her, James K. Bradley, Assistant Attorney General, Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel, and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for respondent.

President Judge Crumlish and Judges MacPhail and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish.

Author: Crumlish

[ 54 Pa. Commw. Page 367]

A Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation referee awarded benefits to Theodore Sisak. The Board reversed on the basis of willful misconduct.*fn1 We affirm.

[ 54 Pa. Commw. Page 368]

Sisak was a United States Postal Service employee for 13 years. Subsequent to a verbal confrontation with his immediate supervisor (Mr. Nickler), Sisak sent a threatening letter to a superior in the Postal Service.*fn2

Sisak was advised of his removal for threatening a supervisor and denied unemployment compensation as a result of his willful misconduct.

Sisak argues that his actions not only lacked the requisite "consciousness of wrongdoing" necessary for willful misconduct, Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Bacon, 25 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 583, 361 A.2d 505 (1976), but that it did not rise to the levels of conduct cited in Gallagher v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 42 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 344, 400 A.2d 926 (1979) [off-duty employee's unprovoked abusive language and threats of violence toward a fellow employee on employer's premises]; Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Lee, 20 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 154, 340 A.2d 586 (1975) [employee threatened supervisor with bodily harm after he refused to allow punching of time card for overtime]; and Wilson v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 15 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 314, 325 A.2d 500 (1974) [employee threatened plant manager with bodily injury with alleged intent to frighten him]. This contention is without merit.

This Court has put no measurable perimeters on what constitutes a threat of violence sufficient to warrant a denial of benefits based on willful misconduct. We consider each case in its own factual matrix. Although Sisak's threat may not have been delivered

[ 54 Pa. Commw. Page 369]

    directly to his immediate boss or couched in vulgar or explicit language, he wrote the letter, leaving no doubt as to the object of his venom and indeed threatened violence.

In denying benefits, the Board's decision accepted witness testimony to conclude that the letter's language was a threat to the supervisor.*fn3 The record unquestionably disclosed substantial evidence to support the finding of willful misconduct.

Affirmed.

Order

The Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, dated April 26, 1979, denying benefits to Theodore Sisak is hereby affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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