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MARY ANDERSON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/12/81)

decided: March 12, 1981.

MARY ANDERSON, 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 Mary Anderson, No. B-175302.

COUNSEL

Vincenti A. DeFauce, with him Daniel L. Haller, for petitioner.

Steven Marcuse, Assistant Attorney General, with him Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel, and Harvey Bartle, III, Acting Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Craig and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 448]

In this unemployment compensation appeal, the claimant*fn1 questions the board's*fn2 affirmance of a referee's decision which denied compensation on the basis of the willful misconduct provision of the Unemployment Compensation Law.*fn3

On March 19, 1979 the employer*fn4 discharged claimant from her duties as a meat wrapper for allegedly shoplifting meat from the employer. On her last day at work, the claimant, during her fifteen-minute break, purchased items from the store, had them bagged and rung up at a cash register, and then took them to her work station in the meat department. A few minutes before the end of claimant's shift, the store manager

[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 449]

    observed the claimant removing five pre-wrapped priced packages of cube steak from the meat cooler and placing them in the bag along with the items purchased during her break. Claimant then proceeded to the rear of the store to punch her time card at the end of her shift. Although the only exit from the store was through the checkout counters at the front, the manager apprehended the claimant and discharged her for shoplifting immediately after the claimant had punched her time card and before she had approached the checkout counters or the exit.

Although the employer had a rule prohibiting employees from purchasing items during their shift, the record indicates that the rule was not enforced.*fn5 Therefore, we agree with the board's conclusion that claimant's violation of that rule cannot constitute willful misconduct.

However, this court has defined willful misconduct as any conduct which exhibits a disregard of the employer's interest. O'Keefe v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 18 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 151, 333 A.2d 815 (1975). Moreover, this court has held that one isolated instance of theft is sufficient to constitute willful misconduct. Kostek v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 32, 315 A.2d 308 (1974).

Consequently, the pivotal question here is whether the testimony that claimant ...


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