Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Freddie J. Peeples, No. B-239058.
Michelle R. Terry, for petitioner.
James K. Bradley, Assistant Counsel, with him, Clifford F. Blaze, Deputy Chief Counsel, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.
[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 505]
Freddie J. Peeples (petitioner) appeals an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which affirmed a referee's decision finding him ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits due to willful misconduct.*fn1
Petitioner was employed by Sun Refining Company (employer) as a fork truck operator from October 1, 1984, to December 24, 1984, for which he received Six Dollars ($6.00) per hour in wages. On the morning of December 24, 1984, petitioner was accosted by Paul Jones, a co-worker, who demanded the fork truck petitioner was then operating. An altercation ensued and petitioner, who was at that time forty-eight (48) years of age, received a split lip and severe headaches from blows delivered by his co-worker. Petitioner was trapped in his fork lift truck and was unable to retreat. Accordingly, he defended himself and was subsequently discharged for fighting, as such activity contravened employer's no-fighting policy.
Petitioner applied to the Office of Employment Security (OES) which denied his claim, finding that his fighting constituted willful misconduct. Petitioner took an appeal, and a hearing was held before a referee at
[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 506]
which petitioner appeared without representation. The referee agreed with the OES, concluding that petitioner, by engaging in fighting, was subject to immediate dismissal according to company policy and that benefits were, therefore, to be denied. The Board affirmed the decision of the referee, but after reviewing the record, set forth its own findings of fact and conclusions of law as is its prerogative pursuant to Peak v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 509 Pa. 267, 501 A.2d 1383 (1985).
The pertinent factual findings of the Board are as follows:
2. Employer policy of which the claimant [petitioner] was aware provides for the immediate discharge of anyone who engages in fighting during working hours or on the employer's premises.
3. On December 24, 1984, the claimant [petitioner] and a co-worker engaged in a physical confrontation regarding the use of a fork truck.
4. The co-worker told the claimant [petitioner] that he wanted his fork truck. The claimant [petitioner] told him he could have it if he ...