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ALBERT MORRELL v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/03/84)

decided: December 3, 1984.

ALBERT MORRELL, SR., 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: Albert Morrell, Sr., No. B-214414.

COUNSEL

E. J. Julian, for petitioner.

Charles Hasson, General Counsel, for respondent.

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

Author: Doyle

[ 108 Pa. Commw. Page 500]

Before this Court is an appeal by Albert Morrell, Sr. (Claimant) from a decision and order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) denying unemployment compensation benefits on the ground that Claimant's reporting for work in an unfit condition was an act of willful misconduct under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).*fn1

Claimant, who is employed as an A and P Line Operator's Helper by the Washington Steel Corp., reported to work in an unfit condition on March 3, 1982. Twice before in 1982 Claimant had been suspended for similar conduct. The March 3, 1982 incident resulted in a six month suspension; the employer selected the six month time period to give Claimant time to seek treatment for his alcoholic condition. Claimant does not deny that he was, in fact, unfit for work on the noted date.

When Claimant's application for unemployment benefits was denied by the Office of Employment Security (OES) on grounds of willful misconduct, Claimant appealed to a referee who sustained the decision of OES on different grounds.*fn2 Subsequent to a Board ordered

[ 108 Pa. Commw. Page 501]

    remand for the purpose of taking additional testimony, the Board affirmed the denial of benefits on the ground of willful misconduct. The appeal to this Court followed.

In willful misconduct cases the burden of establishing the Claimant's ineligibility is on the employer. Placid v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 58 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 250, 427 A.2d 748 (1981). And when the party with the burden of proof prevailed below this Court's scope of review is limited to a determination of whether the Board's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence or whether the Board has committed an error of law. Id.

Claimant first contends that his appearance for work in an unfit condition on March 3, 1982 did not constitute willful misconduct, but was caused by "unresolvable stress" and, hence, was not a willful act. This Court has held that the deliberate violation of an employer's rules does constitute willful misconduct. Kentucky Fried Chicken of Altoona, Inc. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 10 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 90, 309 A.2d 165 (1973). We do not find Claimant's contention that his act was not willful to be persuasive. Alcoholism provides no excuse for the consequences of the alcoholic's actions. Succinctly, the claimant was not discharged for alcoholism; he was discharged for violating the employer's work rules.

In Mooney v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 39 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 404, 395 A.2d 675 (1978), aff'd per curiam, 487 Pa. 448, 409 A.2d 854 (1980), this Court held that an alcoholic employee who was dismissed because he failed to report to work due to his alcoholic stupor was unemployed through his own fault under Section 3 of ...


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