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ORVILLE E. STEADWELL v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (08/19/83)

decided: August 19, 1983.

ORVILLE E. STEADWELL, 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 Orville E. Steadwell, No. B-192538.

COUNSEL

Orville E. Steadwell, petitioner, for himself.

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

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Williams, Jr., and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Williams

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 440]

Orville E. Steadwell (claimant) appeals from the decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review that he is ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits pursuant to Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law.*fn1 The Board

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 441]

    denied benefits on the ground that the claimant, a child-care worker at a residence for delinquent boys, breached employer rules and engaged in unprofessional behavior by having women in unauthorized areas in the residence, by attempting to use residents of the school to procure for him sexual favors from their relatives, and by promising favorable treatment for a school resident in exchange for sexual favors from the resident's mother.

The claimant does not base his appeal on a challenge to the merits of the Board's decision. Rather, he asserts that the referee abused his discretion and denied him due process of law in refusing to grant a continuance of the hearing. He contends that denial of a continuance deprived him of the opportunity to testify on his own behalf. He requests that we vacate the decision and order of the Board, and remand this case for a new hearing.

Because the claimant challenges the adequacy of the hearing process, we must set forth the rather lengthy procedural history of this case. The claimant applied for benefits on July 6, 1980. By a decision dated September 3, 1980, the Office of Employment Security approved the application and began issuing benefits to the claimant. The employer, St. Gabriel's Hall System, filed a timely appeal; and a hearing before an unemployment compensation referee was scheduled for October 22, 1980. On the hearing date, several witnesses appeared on behalf of the employer; the claimant appeared with counsel. The referee was unable to complete the testimony on that date, and continued the case for further hearing.

The hearing was reconvened on November 17, 1980. On that occasion, the employer was represented by counsel. The claimant and his counsel arrived late for

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 442]

    the hearing, allegedly because counsel was engaged in court on another case. The claimant's counsel demanded that the hearing start anew on the ground that testimony was taken prior to his arrival. The referee denied the request, but played back the audio tape of the hearing so that the claimant's counsel could adequately pose objections and cross-examine the employer's witnesses. The employer completed its case, at which point, the claimant's counsel sought a ...


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