Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, in case of In Re: Claim of Robin J. Palermo, No. B-252960.
William J. Flannery, with him, Audrey F. Miner, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, for petitioner.
Clifford F. Blaze, Deputy Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judges MacPhail and Barry, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 185]
Landy & Zeller, Attorneys at Law (Employer) petition for our review of an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which granted benefits to Robin J. Palermo (Claimant). The Board, in awarding benefits, reversed a referee's determination that Claimant was discharged for willful misconduct and, thus, was ineligible for benefits under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).*fn1
Claimant was employed as a secretary by Employer from February, 1984 through April 15, 1986 when she was discharged following her failure to properly notify Employer on two occasions of vacation work absences. The record reflects that, during 1985, Claimant took a five-month leave of absence for Army Reserve duty. Employer hired another secretary during Claimant's leave period. Upon her return to work with Employer in December, 1985, Claimant's work load was diminished significantly. The Board found that, as a result of Claimant's lightened work load, she became concerned regarding the long term security of her position with Employer and consequently began a job search.
On April 4, 1986, Claimant took a half day of vacation, and on April 11, 1986, she took a full day of vacation in connection with her job search. Claimant provided minimal advance notice and no explanation regarding the reasons for her request for vacation time, although it is undisputed that she had adequate vacation time accrued. Employer's policy, of which Claimant concedes she was aware, was to require three weeks prior notification of absences for vacation.
The referee concluded, based on these facts, that Claimant was discharged for violating Employer's policy
[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 186]
regarding vacation time. The referee particularly noted that Claimant gave no explanation as to why she needed vacation time on such short notice. Benefits were, accordingly, denied under the willful misconduct provision of the Law.
On appeal, the Board reversed based on its conclusion that Claimant's conduct did not rise to the level of willful misconduct under the circumstances presented. The Board reasoned that "[t]he actions of the claimant on April 4 and 11, 1986 were much in the interests of the employer who did not wish to continue paying two secretarial salaries. If claimant had reported to the office, it is unlikely there would have been any work to do."
Our scope of review is to determine whether the Board has committed an error of law or rendered fact findings which are not supported by substantial evidence.*fn2 Section 704 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 704. It is, of course, Employer's burden to establish willful misconduct, and Claimant, as the prevailing party below, is entitled to the benefit of all logical inferences which can be drawn from the evidence. ...