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ARTHUR E. JOHNSON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/02/86)

decided: January 2, 1986.

ARTHUR E. JOHNSON, 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 Arthur Johnson, No. B-219232.

COUNSEL

Thomas J. Graham, Finder, Allison, Olshock & Graham, for petitioner.

Charles G. Hasson, Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, 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

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 26]

Arthur E. Johnson (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 (declaration of public policy that benefits will be granted only to persons unemployed through no fault of their own). We affirm.

Claimant was employed by the H.J. Heinz Company (Employer) as a chef in the employees' cafeteria until his last day of employment on December 22, 1982. On Christmas day of 1982, a female employee of Employer, with whom Claimant had been living, was shot to death in Claimant's home, and Claimant was arrested and charged with her murder. Three days later, a representative of Employer visited Claimant in jail, and discussed the possibility of Claimant resigning his position. After he was released on bond, Claimant again met with Employer's representative and again was asked to consider resigning. When Claimant refused to resign, he was suspended*fn2 and was told, at that time, that it was because of absenteeism.

At an unemployment compensation hearing, however, the referee found that Claimant was suspended because of the homicide charge against him and because other employees of Employer were aware of what had occurred. According to the referee, Employer was concerned that Claimant's continued presence would have a distracting effect on the other employees

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 27]

    who used the cafeteria and, furthermore, Claimant was aware that Employer held its employees to a high standard of conduct and that they could be discharged for acts that did not occur at the workplace. In light of these facts, the referee determined that, under Section 3 of the Law, Claimant was ineligible for benefits because his unemployment was caused by his own fault. The decision of the referee was thereafter affirmed by the Board.

On appeal to this Court, Claimant contends that there is not substantial evidence to support certain findings of the referee, namely: (1) that other employees were aware of what had occurred because of media coverage; (2) that Employer was concerned that Claimant's continued presence would have a distracting and disquieting effect on the employees who used the cafeteria; and (3) that Claimant was aware of Employer's policy that employees may be discharged for a number of reasons, including the commission of acts of violence.*fn3 Furthermore, Claimant argues that the evidence does not establish his ineligibility for benefits under Section 3, because it does not show that Claimant's conduct was inconsistent with accepted standards of behavior nor that the conduct adversely reflected upon his ability to perform his assigned duties.

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 ...


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