Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Charles Elliott, No. B-206453.
Charles Elliott, petitioner, for himself.
Charles G. Hasson, Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, with him, Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Williams, Jr., Barry and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 108]
This case is before us on the petition for review of Charles Elliott (claimant) who was dismissed from his employment as a revenue examiner for the City of Philadelphia (employer) because he disclosed confidential tax information to a reporter from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. The referee found that claimant's actions constituted willful misconduct under Section 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),
[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 109]
and therefore was ineligible for benefits under the Law. The Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirmed the referee's decision.
Claimant's employment as a revenue examiner consisted of auditing business accounts of taxpayers. The results of these audits and the notes made by claimant as he was conducting the audits (work product) were placed in files stamped "confidential". The City of Philadelphia had a policy which prohibited employees from disclosing any confidential tax information to outside sources.*fn1 At the hearing before the referee, claimant admitted that he was familiar with this policy,
[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 110]
but contended that the information which he furnished to the newspaper reporter was not confidential.
On several occasions, claimant had accused his supervisors of favoring certain taxpayers and had complained to the Commissioner. As a result of his complaints, an investigation was conducted by the Office of the District Attorney and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There is some dispute as to whether this investigation was ongoing at the time of claimant's dismissal, although the referee found that "claimant's charges were dismissed as unfounded." Resolution of this disputed fact is not necessary to permit us to reach a determination in this case.
In December of 1981, claimant had an interview with a newspaper reporter from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. He disclosed certain confidential tax information and named taxpayers whom he felt were given special consideration.*fn2 Claimant also charged his supervisors and the Commissioner with malfeasance. The reporter subsequently wrote an article which was printed in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin regarding the charges made by claimant. When the Deputy Revenue ...