Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of James W. Dickey, No. B-203391.
Charles J. Morris, for petitioner.
Charles G. Hasson, Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, with him, Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Craig, Barry and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
James W. Dickey (claimant) appeals here an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirming the referee's denial of benefits under § 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. § 802(e).
From the evidence presented, the Board made factual findings which included the following: that the claimant and a female co-worker had engaged in a physical altercation; that the female co-worker had consequently suffered injuries including a swollen face, cut lip and the loss of a contact lens; and that the claimant's behavior had violated an employer work rule which provided for the termination of an employee who engages in abusive and threatening conduct towards a fellow employee. The Board found that the claimant's behavior amounted to willful misconduct and concluded that he was ineligible for benefits under § 402(e) of the Law.*fn1 He then appealed the Board's decision.
The claimant argues first that the factual findings of the Board are not supported by substantial evidence. The employer, of course, bears the burden of proving willful misconduct in an unemployment compensation case. Gane v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 41 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 292, 398 A.2d 1110 (1979). And, when the party bearing the burden of proof prevails before the Board, as the employer did here, our scope of review is limited to determining whether the factual findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether an error of law has been committed. Wright v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 66 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 506, 445 A.2d 556 (1982). In determining whether substantial evidence exists to support the Board's findings,
we must examine the testimony in the light most favorable to the prevailing party below, giving that party the benefit of any inference which can be drawn logically and reasonably from the evidence. Whisner v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 67 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 137, 446 A.2d 336 (1982). And, if the record contains substantial supporting evidence, the Board's factual findings are conclusive. Taylor v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 474 Pa. 351, 378 A.2d 829 (1977).
The plant foreman testified here that the claimant, after interrupting a private conversation between one Donna Yoder, another employee, and himself, yelled at and cursed Ms. Yoder. When she was directed by the plant foreman to leave the room, the claimant went after her, and, according to the plant foreman, who testified that he followed the claimant down a flight of stairs, he found Ms. Yoder "stretched over the handrail, and . . . [the claimant] up against her." He further testified that he found it necessary to remain in between the claimant and Ms. Yoder until help arrived to assist him in separating them completely.
Although the claimant argues that, when he followed Ms. Yoder down the stairs he fell into her thus causing her injuries, what happened is a factual determination for the Board, and, after a thorough review of the record, we must hold that ...