Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of Kenneth E. Bower, No. B-235437.
Mark D. Newberger, Leonard M. Sagot Associates, for petitioner.
G. Roger Bowers, with him, Vincent J. Walsh, Jr., for intervenor, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
No appearance for respondent.
Judges MacPhail, Doyle and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 338]
Kenneth Bower, the claimant, appeals an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which affirmed a decision of a referee denying the claimant benefits on the grounds that he had engaged in willful misconduct.
The claimant had been a superintendent for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA). At the time of the incident in question, the claimant was in charge of maintenance of the Market-Frankford elevated train system and the Media-Sharon Hill trolley lines. It is the claimant's conduct in his capacity as a superintendent during a snowstorm that is at the heart of the present controversy.
[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 339]
On March 8, 1984, the claimant began work at approximately 6:00 a.m. That day, the weather forecast called for snow sometime late in the day. Because the elevated trains were especially susceptible to problems arising from the snow, the claimant's superior issued an order at a staff meeting that protective covers should be installed on the trains powering the elevated lines. The claimant informed his charges of this order and directed the operation to be carried out. The claimant was aware that covers for all of the trains were not on hand at the shop; he made arrangements that covers be delivered so that they might be installed. The claimant left work at approximately 5:00 p.m. At that time, according to the claimant's testimony, the snowfall was light. In anticipation of a heavier snowfall during the night, the claimant went to bed at 8:00 p.m.; before retiring, however, he testified he looked outside and saw that it had stopped snowing.
During the night, the snowfall increased, eventually requiring SEPTA to declare what it designated as a Level 2 snow emergency. The claimant was called by a foreman at the 69th Street terminal who informed the claimant that a number of problems had developed because of the snow. Claimant arrived at the terminal at approximately 5:15 a.m. and found the situation to be quite chaotic. The claimant worked all day and left for home at 5:15 p.m.
On March 11, the claimant's superiors received complaints concerning his handling of the situation during the snowstorm. The claimant was relieved of his duties pending an investigation. Ten days later, the claimant was suspended for sixty days without pay. The claimant filed an application for benefits. Following a hearing, the referee denied benefits, finding that the ...