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ARNOLD BAILEY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/24/83)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: February 24, 1983.

ARNOLD BAILEY, 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 Arnold Bailey, No. B-194641.

COUNSEL

Arnold Bailey, petitioner, for himself.

John T. Kupchinsky, Associate Counsel, with him Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 294]

This is an appeal by Arnold Bailey (Claimant) from a decision and order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirming a referee's denial of benefits pursuant to Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law, (Law),*fn1 the "willful misconduct" clause. We affirm.

Claimant was employed by the Arthur H. Thomas Co. (Employer) as a Senior Clerk. On February 9, 1981, Claimant arrived at work early and went to the office of a senior vice-president of Employer. Once there, he entered into a verbal altercation wherein he demanded that the vice-president summon two of Claimant's supervisors to the office and reprimand them for warning Claimant about his numerous absences for illness. Claimant felt the warning to have been unjustified in view of the fact that he had always adhered to Employer's procedures for reporting absences and had verified the necessity of his missing work with physicians' notes. The vice-president ignored

[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 295]

Claimant's demands and cautioned him that if he persisted he would be dismissed. Claimant continued to press his demand and was fired. Unemployment compensation benefits were subsequently denied by a referee and the Board on the grounds that Claimant's persistence in pressing his demands, contrary to the vice-president's directions to cease and to leave the office and report to his work area, constituted disqualifying "willful misconduct."

The burden of establishing that an employee was discharged for "willful misconduct" such that will render him ineligible for unemployment compensation is on the employer. Bignell v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 61 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 568, 434 A.2d 869 (1981). Whether certain conduct constitutes "willful misconduct" under the Law is a question of law subject to this Court's review. Nolan v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 57 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 186, 425 A.2d 1203 (1981). An employee's conduct will not be deemed to be disqualifying "willful misconduct" if there was good cause for his actions. Frumento v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 466 Pa. 81, 351 A.2d 631 (1976).

Before this Court, Claimant's initial challenge to the Board's denial of benefits derives from the fact that the only witness present at the referee's hearing on behalf of Employer, James Moran of the personnel department, was not present when Claimant was discharged. Claimant therefore asserts that Mr. Moran's testimony was hearsay and either should not have been permitted or cannot support the referee's findings crucial to the denial of benefits. We disagree. At no time during the hearing in this matter did Claimant register an objection to the testimony of Mr. Moran. Unobjected to hearsay will be given its natural probative effect and can support the Board's findings where it is corroborated by competent record evidence.

[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 296]

Order

Now, February 24, 1983, the decision and order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the above captioned matter, No. B-194641, dated April 24, 1981, is hereby affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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