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ROBERT W. SNELSON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/18/85)

decided: December 18, 1985.

ROBERT W. SNELSON, 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 W. Snelson, No. B-231510.

COUNSEL

James P. O'Connell, with him, Vicki L. Beatty, for petitioner.

Charles G. Hasson, Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, with him, Daniel T. Booth, Legal Intern, for respondent.

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

Author: Palladino

[ 93 Pa. Commw. Page 541]

Robert W. Snelson (Claimant) appeals from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) denying 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). We affirm.

Claimant was employed as a housekeeper by the Gateway Rehabilitation Center (Employer), a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, where he worked for one year and three months until his last day of employment on December 9, 1983. On the evening of December 9, 1983, following work, Claimant and a co-worker spent time together socializing and drinking alcohol late into the night. At approximately 1:30 A.M., on the morning of December 10, 1983, Claimant and his co-worker, who were by that time both very intoxicated, got into a fight, during which Claimant fatally stabbed the co-worker. Claimant thereupon panicked, threw his knife away, and fled to the home of his girlfriend. He was arrested by the police and charged with criminal homicide. At the time of the unemployment compensation proceedings, however, no

[ 93 Pa. Commw. Page 542]

    disposition of the criminal charges against him had yet been made.

Immediately following the incident, a local newspaper carried a report of the killing in which both Claimant and the victim were identified as employees of Employer. On December 13, 1983, Employer suspended Claimant from his job and, soon thereafter, Claimant was discharged because Employer considered him an unsuitable employee in light of the criminal charges pending against him. Claimant thereafter applied for unemployment compensation benefits, which were initially granted by the referee. The Board, however, while adopting the referee's findings of fact, relied on Section 3 of the Law in determining that Claimant was ineligible for benefits because his discharge was caused by his own fault.

On appeal to this Court, Claimant contends that the evidence does not establish that his conduct was inimical to accepted standards of behavior, nor does it show that his conduct directly reflected upon his ability to perform his assigned duties. Claimant concludes, therefore, that he cannot 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).

It is well settled that Section 3 of the Law has substantive effect and application, and provides a ground for disqualification that is independent of those enumerated in Section 402 of the Law.*fn2 Corbacio v. Unemployment ...


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