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ROBERT G. EISENHAUER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (11/15/83)

decided: November 15, 1983.

ROBERT G. EISENHAUER, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Robert G. Eisenhauer, No. B-202101-B.

COUNSEL

Peter B. Macky, for petitioner.

Charles G. Hasson, Acting Chief Counsel, with him Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.

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

Author: Rogers

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 342]

This is a claimant's appeal from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review declaring him ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits because he was discharged from work for willful misconduct. Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law, 43 P.S. § 802(e).

The claimant was employed as a security guard from 1977 until discharged on June 23, 1981. The claimant testified that in addition to his pay he anticipated receiving the three years employment experience necessary to qualify him for his own private detective license. See Section 4 of the Private Detective Act of 1953, Act of August 21, 1953, P.L. 1273, as amended, 22 P.S. § 14. Indeed, his employer gave him a certificate of completion of three years employment in March, 1980.

In support of its decision that the claimant was ineligible for compensation because of his willful misconduct, the Board found that the claimant had lodged a groundless complaint against his employer requiring the employer to incur expenses of defending himself in court; that the claimant on one occasion left his post of duty without authorization; and that the claimant refused to follow orders and downgraded the efforts of his superiors. The claimant argues that these findings are not supported by substantial evidence.

The events which were the principal cause of the claimant's discharge began on October 29, 1980 when the District Attorney of Columbia County notified the employer that the employer's detective license had expired in 1978 and that the employer's business must be discontinued until the proper license was obtained. The claimant learned of this event and became concerned about the validity of the certificate

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 343]

    which had been issued to him in March, 1980. On January 27, 1981, the employer filed an application for a private detective license in the Court of Common Pleas. The record does not tell us whether this was an application for a new or renewal license although the employer testified that he intended it as an application for a renewal license. In any event, the claimant, acting as his own counsel, filed a challenge to the issuance of a detective license to the employer. The claimant explained this act as motivated by concern over his certificate and as having the purpose of opposing the issuance of a new, as distinguished from a renewal license, to the employer -- his reasoning being that his certificate would be good only if a renewal license were issued to the employer. A hearing on the application was held in March, 1981 and on June 23, 1981, after learning that the court was going to grant the application, the employer discharged the claimant. The employer received a renewal license on June 26, 1981.

The question of whether or not an employee's actions constitute willful misconduct is one of law subject to our review. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Cardellino, 24 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 617, 357 A.2d 710 (1976); Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Crilly, 25 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 21, 358 A.2d 739 (1976). The determination must be made in light of all circumstances, not only the employee's actions, but also the reasons for his actions. Frumento v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 466 Pa. 81, 351 A.2d 631 (1976). The employee's conduct will not constitute willful misconduct if it was justifiable under the ...


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