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BMY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/03/86)

decided: February 3, 1986.

BMY, A DIVISION OF HARSCO CORPORATION, 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 Lucjan Zlotnicki, No. B-235175.

COUNSEL

John F. Stillmun, III, with him, Thomas B. Kenworthy, Of Counsel: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, for petitioner.

David P. Shaffalo, for respondent.

Lawrence Corson, with him, Robert B. B. Schatz, Corson & Getson, for intervenor/respondent, Lucjan Zlotnicki.

Judges Doyle and Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.

Author: Colins

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 581]

Petitioner, Bowen-McLaughlin-York Company (BMY), seeks review of an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review awarding benefits

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 582]

    to its former employee, Lucjan Zlotnicki (claimant). BMY alleges that claimant should be denied benefits on account of willful misconduct in accord with Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Act).*fn1

BMY is a division of Harsco Corporation engaged in defense contracting work, including both general and directed research and development (R & D).*fn2 Claimant was hired by BMY in October of 1981. During his tenure there, claimant invented a device called a "Four (4)-Bar Bridge Launch Mechanism" for use in the assault phase of a military land vehicle operation which was used by BMY to meet specifications required by a joint U.S.-Israeli military project. An ownership dispute regarding the invention between the parties led to claimant's termination. BMY now alleges that claimant was insubordinate and engaged in willful misconduct resulting in his termination during the course of the dispute and urges that the Board's award of benefits be reversed.

The factual matrix is convoluted from which we have distilled the following. Claimant, a native of Poland, with resident alien status in the United States, was hired by BMY in the fall of 1981 directly out of a teaching post at Spring Garden College. In the summer of 1982, he developed the device and turned it over to his employer. There is some controversy as to whether claimant was part of a team assigned to work on the U.S.-Israeli project and what his designated role was. BMY then asked claimant to sign a contract turning ownership over to BMY of all inventions developed

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 583]

    during the term of employment. Such a contract was normally signed by BMY employees engaged in general R & D, but not by employees engaged in directed R & D. No contract had been presented to claimant at the start of his employment. Claimant did not sign and instead presented BMY with a contract of his own possessing different terms. BMY never signed this agreement. Claimant testified that he had never been assigned to the team working on the U.S.-Israeli project, that he invented the device while working at home, and therefore, believed the invention to be his. Because the claimant did not receive the compensation or promotion he evidently had hoped for in turning over the device to BMY, he continued to ...


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