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CELESTINE FORD v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/16/82)

decided: July 16, 1982.

CELESTINE FORD, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT. PHILADELPHIA PARENT CHILD CENTER, INC., INTERVENOR



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Celestine Ford, No. B-191435.

COUNSEL

Judith Brown Chomsky, for petitioner.

Charles Donahue, Associate Counsel, with him Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Larry A. Colston, for intervenor.

President Judge Crumlish and Judges Blatt and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle. President Judge Crumlish, Jr. concurs in the result only. Judge Mencer did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Doyle

[ 67 Pa. Commw. Page 452]

Celestine Ford (Claimant) appeals here from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) denying her benefits pursuant to Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law), Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. ยง 802(e), the willful misconduct provision. We affirm.

From October of 1978 until May 29, 1980, Claimant was employed as a social worker for the Philadelphia Parent Child Center, Inc. (Center) where she was assigned to the Center's home visitor and learning center programs. During the course of her employment at the Center, Claimant became the object of several complaints from both parents and co-workers involved in her programs who alleged, inter alia, that Claimant had a condescending attitude towards them. Following two meetings with Claimant to discuss these complaints, Claimant's supervisor

[ 67 Pa. Commw. Page 453]

    was informed that one of Claimant's co-workers*fn1 had threatened Claimant with physical violence. In response to this situation, the Center informed Claimant that she was being laterally transferred to a position in the Center's Head Start Component, a transfer which Claimant subsequently refused to accept.*fn2 Thereafter, Claimant was informed orally and by letter that if she wished to contest her transfer she should file a formal grievance pursuant to the provisions of the Center's personnel rules. Claimant subsequently refused to file such a grievance, however, and was accordingly suspended, and then terminated, from her employment.

Before this Court, Claimant maintains that her refusal to accept the transfer did not constitute willful misconduct because (1) the transfer was unreasonable in light of the fact that she was the victim and not perpetrator of a threat of violence, and (2) that she was justified in refusing the transfer since the Center's personnel rules require a written evaluation and a reasonable opportunity for improvement before personnel actions can be taken for unsatisfactory work performance. We disagree.

The question of whether a particular course of behavior constitutes willful misconduct, of course, is a question of law that is fully reviewable by this Court. Murraysville Telephone Co. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 41 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 35, 398 A.2d 250 (1979). Although the term willful misconduct is ...


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