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RANDY O. SHEAFFER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/28/85)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: October 28, 1985.

RANDY O. SHEAFFER, 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 Randy O. Sheaffer, No. B-220003.

COUNSEL

Geoffrey M. Biringer, with him, Frederic Chardon, for petitioner.

Charles D. Donahue, with him, Charles G. Hasson, Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, and James K. Bradley, Associate Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Colins and Palladino, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 432]

Randy O. Sheaffer (Claimant) appeals from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirming a referee's decision to deny unemployment compensation benefits to Claimant under Section 3 of the Unemployment Compensation Law*fn1 (Law) (declaration of public policy that benefits will be granted only to persons unemployed through no fault of their own).

Claimant was employed by Wilton Company (Employer) as a grinder, where he worked for one year and three months until his last day of employment on March 4, 1983. On March 2, 1983, while at his place of employment, Claimant was arrested by the Mt. Joy police and charged with burglary and theft for a crime

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 433]

    which was not committed against Employer.*fn2 When he returned to work two days later, Claimant spoke to Employer and admitted that he was guilty of the theft, whereupon he was given the option of resigning or being dismissed. Claimant opted to resign but, as the referee found, in light of the choice offered him Claimant had in effect been discharged by Employer because of the theft.*fn3

Relying on Section 3 of the Law, the referee denied unemployment compensation benefits to Claimant, holding that such benefits are available only to those individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own, while Claimant's discharge was certainly caused by his own fault. The Board affirmed the referee's decision.

On appeal to this Court, Claimant argues that the evidence does not establish fault on his part which would be incompatible with his work responsibilities, and that he cannot, therefore, be precluded from benefits by reason of Section 3.

Initially, we note that our scope of review of this case is limited to determining whether or not the factual findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether or not an error of law has been committed. Clark v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 80 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 513, 517, 471 A.2d 1309, 1310 (1984).

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 434]

It is well settled that Section 3 of the Law has substantive effect and application, and sets forth an independent basis upon which to deny compensation in addition to the bases for disqualification specifically enumerated in Section 402 of the Law.*fn4 Drumm v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 75 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 449, 450, n. 1, 462 A.2d 345, n. 1 (1983). This Court has held that:

In order to deny compensation under Section 3 of the [Law], more is needed than mere evidence of an arrest for a crime. The employer must present some evidence showing conduct of the claimant leading to the criminal arrest which is inconsistent with acceptable standards of behavior and which directly reflects upon his ability to perform his assigned duties. Of course, no proof of criminal conviction is necessary. . . . The employer need only produce evidence that would have established fault on the part of the employee which would be incompatible with his work responsibilities. (Citations omitted.) (Emphasis in original.)

Clark, 80 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. at 516-517, 471 A.2d at 1310, citing Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Derk, 24 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 54, 57, 353 A.2d 915, 917 (1976). We have previously considered a number of factors in determining whether a claimant's criminal conduct directly reflects upon his ability to do his job. Among these factors are the assigned job duties of a claimant,*fn5 the type of criminal offense involved,*fn6 the employer's need to trust his employee,*fn7

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 435]

    and other circumstances that prove relevant to a particular case.*fn8

In the case at bar, the Board has found that Claimant admitted to committing acts which are clearly inconsistent with acceptable standards of behavior. The Board has failed, however, to make any findings concerning the issue of whether Claimant's culpable

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 436]

    conduct adversely affects his ability to perform his work responsibilities. Without such findings, "we are unable to apply the legal standard articulated by this Court in Derk." Clark, 80 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. at 517, 471 A.2d at 1311.

This Court, when conducting its function of appellate review, may not fill a factual void. Guth v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 81 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 79, 473 A.2d 228 (1984). Therefore, we vacate the Board's decision and order, and remand for specific findings of fact on the following:

     a) the nature of Claimant's assigned duties;

     b) the specific nature of the offense committed by Claimant;

     c) whether Claimant's job requires any special degree of trust on the part of Employer, considering particularly whether Claimant works with items of value and whether he is normally under the direct supervision of Employer; and

     d) any other circumstances which may particularly affect Claimant's ability to do his job, including whether the crime occurred on or off Employer's premises, and whether or not it involved any of Employer's other workers or clients.

Order

And Now, October 28, 1985, we hereby vacate the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review at No. B-220003, dated July 15, 1983, and remand to the Board for further proceedings and specific findings of fact consistent with the foregoing opinion.

Jurisdiction relinquished.

Disposition

Vacated and remanded.


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