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HELEN L. SAMPSON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/09/83)

decided: May 9, 1983.

HELEN L. SAMPSON, 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 Helen L. Sampson, No. B-196828.

COUNSEL

Neil Leibman, for petitioner.

William Kennedy, Associate Counsel, with him Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.

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

Author: Craig

[ 74 Pa. Commw. Page 196]

Helen L. Sampson, discharged by Broadcast Enterprises National, Inc. from the position of financial assistant, appeals a benefits denial by the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, which affirmed a referee's conclusion that her refusal to work overtime constituted willful misconduct under section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law.*fn1

[ 74 Pa. Commw. Page 197]

In the morning of January 2, 1981, a Friday, the claimant's supervisor told her that she would be needed to work on a special project. After lunch that day, in response to the claimant's inquiry, the supervisor told the claimant that she could not begin work presently, but would have to take the work home with her that weekend. The claimant said that she would be unable to take any work home, because of previous commitments she had for the weekend.

At 4:00 p.m. that day, the company held a meeting with all of the employees who were to work on the project; the claimant did not attend. At 4:15 p.m., the company's vice-president emerged from the meeting, and asked the claimant why she did not attend, and the claimant explained that her supervisor, evidently assuming that the claimant was not going to do the work, had not asked her to attend. The claimant explained to the vice-president that she did not refuse to do the work, but that she had an emergency situation to attend to, and that she would be out of town over the weekend. The claimant then offered to come to work early Monday, before working hours, to complete the project. The vice-president did not accept that offer, and indicated that he had to speak to the company president. At 5:00 p.m. that afternoon, the claimant was called into her supervisor's office and fired, although she was never warned that her refusal to work over the weekend would result in her termination.

[ 74 Pa. Commw. Page 198]

The employer has the burden of proving that he discharged a claimant because of willful misconduct, Zuraw v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 61 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 548, 434 A.2d 1312 (1981). In determining whether an employee's refusal of an employer's work assignment constitutes willful misconduct, we must balance the reasonableness of the request with the reasonableness of the refusal. Kelly Page 198} v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 56 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 262, 424 A.2d 612 (1981).

In determining the reasonableness of the employer's request, the referee relied on the following findings of fact:

7. The work involved was of such importance to the company that the president offered the services of his wife to assist in the completion of the ...


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