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HARRIET C. B. BLAKE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/29/81)

decided: January 29, 1981.

HARRIET C. B. BLAKE, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW AND DETTRA FLAG COMPANY, RESPONDENTS. PHYLLIS S. FINERFROCK, PETITIONER V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW AND DETTRA FLAG COMPANY, RESPONDENTS



Appeals from the Orders of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in cases of In Re: Claim of Harriet C. B. Blake, No. B-168928, and In Re: Claim of Phyllis S. Finerfrock, No. B-168929.

COUNSEL

Brian P. Sullivan, with him J. Peirce Anderson, Kane, Pugh, Anderson, Subers & McBrien, for petitioners.

Karen Durkin, Assistant Attorney General, with her James Bradley, Assistant Attorney General, Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel, and Harvey Bartle, III, Acting Attorney General, for respondent, Unemployment Compensation Board of Review.

Robert K. Loesche, for respondent, Dettra Flag Company.

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

Author: Williams

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 360]

We have consolidated for disposition the appeals of claimants Harriet C. B. Blake and Phyllis S. Finerfrock from two separate orders of the Unemployment Compensation Board, denying benefits to each claimant on the basis of Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).*fn1 Both of the claimants' applications for benefits had initially been denied by the Bureau of Employment Security on the same grounds; but the denials were overturned by the referee after separate hearings. On appeal by the employer, the Board reversed, and the instant appeals followed. To facilitate discussion, we have changed the sequence of the appeals.

498 C.D. 1979

Claimant Phyllis S. Finerfrock was last employed by Dettra Flag Company (employer) as a sewing machine operator for approximately eight years prior to her final work date of April 28, 1978. She was primarily responsible for the sewing of rayon flags, at a final rate of pay of approximately $3.43 per hour. The claimant was discharged for "stealing time" from the company after she admitted to allegations that she was doing private sewing during her hours of employment. Claimant does not dispute the central finding of both the referee and the Board that she did private sewing during work hours; rather, she challenges the Board's denial of benefits under the willful misconduct provision of the Law based on her contention that she did not deliberately violate company rules. Regarding that contention, she reasons that her actions cannot be deemed to be a deliberate violation of company rules for the simple reason that there was no written or verbal policy about private work during company hours.

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 361]

Although "willful misconduct" is not defined in the Law, the term has been defined by the courts to be any one or more of the following types of behavior: (1) the wanton and willful disregard of the employer's interest; (2) the deliberate violation of rules; (3) the disregard of standards of behavior which an employer can rightfully expect from his employee; or (4) negligence which manifests culpability, wrongful intent, evil design, or intentional and substantial disregard for the employer's interests or the employee's duties and obligations. Kentucky Fried Chicken of Altoona, Inc. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 10 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 90, 309 A.2d 165 (1973).

We conclude that the claimant's use of her working hours for her private sewing activities rises to the level of willful misconduct. The mere fact that there was no specific policy on the subject of private sewing on company time may arguably support the claimant's contention that her conduct did not constitute a deliberate violation of company rules; but that does not detract from the common sense realization that such behavior clearly evidences an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer's interest and of the employee's duties and obligations to the employer. During the time she was supposed to be working for her ...


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