Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Richard W. Drumm, No. B-196080.
David W. Pickens, for petitioner.
Charles G. Hasson, Assistant Counsel, with him Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Williams, Jr. and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 450]
Richard Drumm has appealed from the decision and order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review denying his claim for benefits pursuant to Section 3 of the Unemployment Compensation Law.*fn1
[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 451]
The competent evidence in the record paints the following factual scenario.
The claimant was employed for approximately seven years as a machine operator at Anchor Hocking Corporation. On December 16, 1980, he was placed on temporary lay-off due to lack of work. He was entitled to recall in accordance with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the claimant's union and the employer. Furthermore, he would have been recalled except for his being involuntarily placed on an indefinite personal leave-of-absence by his employer effective January 19, 1981.
The impetus for the employer placing the claimant on indefinite leave was a newspaper article published on January 16, 1981 which reported that the claimant had that morning been arrested on morals charges. The claimant's employer was not identified in the article. The employer had no first-hand knowledge of the incident which was the basis for the arrest. According to the employer's testimony, the reason for placing the claimant on a leave of absence was to protect against the possibility that the claimant might suffer harassment from co-workers if he returned to work, or that production might be affected by the attention the claimant might draw within the plant. While the employer representative testified to comments made to her by three employees concerning their reaction to the charges against the claimant, there was no evidence of threats of violence against the claimant or of disruption at the plant if the claimant returned to work.
The claimant did not admit the charges made against him. However, a magistrate found prima facie evidence to support the charges, and accordingly bound the case over for presentation to the grand jury. At the time of the referee's hearing, there had been no disposition of the charges, and the final disposition is not reflected in the record.
[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 452]
On this factual history, the Board affirmed a decision of the referee that the claimant's unemployment was due to his own fault by virtue of his arrest on morals charges. This decision was based on a finding that due to the nature of the charges, the employer was of the opinion that the claimant would be unable to perform his job duties. Furthermore, the referee reasoned that the claimant's actions had allowed adverse publicity to reflect on the employer. ...