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DAVID ELLIS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/31/81)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: March 31, 1981.

DAVID ELLIS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT

Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of David Ellis, No. B-175784.

COUNSEL

Lettie D. Newkirk, with her Oscar N. Gaskins, Gaskins & McCaskill, P.C., for petitioner.

Charles G. Hasson, Assistant Attorney General, with him Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel, and Harvey Bartle, III, Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Blatt and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Blatt

[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 158]

The petitioner*fn1 seeks review of a decision of the Board*fn2 which found him, under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law,*fn3 to be ineligible for benefits because he had been discharged for willful misconduct.

The petitioner, a clerk in a state liquor store, was discharged because he had left his employment early on February 9, 1979, claiming then that the store was too cold. It was testified that his supervisor had told him to work in the back of the store, away from the front doors, but he had rejected this suggestion. The Board affirmed the finding of the referee and of the Bureau (now Office) of Employment Security, holding that the petitioner's behavior, when coupled with his prior work record,*fn4 amounted to such willful misconduct as would justify his discharge and make him ineligible for benefits.

The petitioner argues first that he did not refuse an order from his employer when he left work, because his supervisor did not object to his leaving and only suggested that the petitioner move to the back of the

[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 159]

    store. Obviously, this argument is without merit. The record shows that the supervisor's directive to the petitioner to work in the back of the store was part of an ongoing rotation system to ensure that no employee had to suffer the cold draft from the front door for an unduly long time. Furthermore, the petitioner himself testified that he knew that his supervisor would forward a report of his early departure to superiors and he understood that docking of his pay or other disciplinary action could result.

The petitioner also argues that it was reasonable for him to refuse his supervisor's suggestion, even if it were to be considered as an order, because working conditions in the store were inordinately cold. A review of the record shows, however, that there was substantial evidence to support the Board's finding*fn5 that the supervisor's order was reasonable and that the petitioner's departure was consequently unjustified.

[ 58 Pa. Commw. Page 160]

It is argued finally that no competent evidence was produced as to the petitioner's prior misconduct and that his action in the one instance concerning which there was testimony, did not of itself rise to the level of willful misconduct. The record indicates, however, that the petitioner had previously received warnings and a suspension for insubordination and unsatisfactory work, a suspension having been imposed just the day before. Such evidence is clearly sufficient to remove any doubt that the conduct noted here demonstrated a continuing and substantial disregard of the behavior which the petitioner's employer had a right to expect. Wetzel v. Unemployment Compensation Page 160} Board of Review, 29 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 195, 370 A.2d 415 (1977).

We will, therefore, affirm the Board's denial of benefits.

Order

And Now, this 31st day of March 1981, the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the above-captioned matter is affirmed.

This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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