Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of John W. Heffelfinger, No. B-174689.
Charles E. Wasilefski, Foulkrod, Peters & Wasilefski, for petitioner.
William Kennedy, Assistant Attorney General, with him James K. Bradley, Associate Counsel, Richard Wagner, Counsel, and Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Mariann E. Schick, Assistant Regional Labor Counsel, for intervening party respondent.
President Judge Crumlish and Judges Rogers and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 281]
John W. Heffelfinger was discharged from his employment as a United States Postal Service window clerk for reasons the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review decided constituted wilfull misconduct which, by Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law,*fn1 rendered him ineligible for benefits. He has appealed.
The claimant's duties consisted of selling stamps, envelopes, postcards, and money orders, collection of post office box rental payments and COD's and
[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 282]
setting postage meters. He was required, at the end of each day's business, to summarize the day's transactions on an accounting form provided by the employer and denominated as Postal Service Form No. 1412-A. In 1978 two audits disclosed a shortage of just under $1,000 in the cash and retail items for which the claimant was accountable. The same audits showed that on seventeen specified days during the previous year the 1412-A forms submitted by the claimant contained inaccuracies involving primarily an understatement of amounts received on account of postage stamp sales. The claimant was discharged for falsifying postal service records.*fn2
Two hearings were held by the unemployment compensation referee. The employer did not enter an appearance at the first hearing at which the claimant and his union representative testified that window clerks were compelled by the nature and volume of certain types of transactions occasionally to dispense with the required accounting niceties, that this practice was condoned by postal service management, and that this practice might explain the discrepancies in the forms submitted by the claimant. On the basis of this evidence the referee found that the employer had failed to meet its burden to show wilfull misconduct on the part of the claimant.
[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 283]
The employer appealed and requested the Board to order the taking of additional evidence arguing that it had not received timely notice of the first hearing. The Board ordered a second hearing at which the employer elicited the testimony of one William Crouse, a sixteen year veteran postal inspector, who had performed the audits at issue. Mr. Crouse testified that on the seventeen dates specified in the Notice of Charges the amounts reported by the claimant as received on account of postage stamp sales were less than the amounts actually received for such sales. This conclusion was buttressed by the written statements of customers contacted by postal authorities as part of the audit investigation stating that particular payments were made by check to the claimant for postage stamps.*fn3 These same payments ...