Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Lois E. Simonds, No. B-252997.
Bernard V. O'Hare, for petitioner.
Clifford F. Blaze, Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Narick. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 466]
Lois E. Simonds (Claimant) appeals from a decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirming a referee's decision denying benefits pursuant to Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Act), Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. § 802(e) (willful misconduct). We affirm.
Claimant was employed as a newspaper reporter by The Globe Times of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (Employer) from 1974 until her last day of work on April 21, 1986. Claimant's job position with Employer was as the local county courthouse reporter. In April of 1986, Claimant submitted an article about a certain individual (E.M.) to her editor. The editor rejected Claimant's first two drafts of the article, reminded Claimant that the facts contained in the article must be correct, and stressed the importance of accuracy of the article to Claimant. A third draft of the article was subsequently submitted by Claimant to her editor and certain portions of the article were rewritten by the editor. The editor did not rewrite two paragraphs in the article which pertained to two felony convictions received by E.M. However, Claimant was advised by her editor to verify the convictions that she had reported in the article. On April 7, 1986, the article appeared in the newspaper. On April 12, 1986, the editor was told by E.M.'s attorney that E.M. was defamed by the article because he had not been convicted on the two felony charges, rather it was E.M.'s son who had received these convictions, E.M., Jr. On Saturday, April 12, 1986, the editor spoke by telephone with Claimant regarding the
[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 467]
errors contained in her article. At that time, Claimant informed her editor that she learned of the mistake on Friday, April 11, 1986. Claimant further advised her editor that the public records at the courthouse indicated the name to be E.M., not E.M., Jr.*fn1 Claimant was advised by her editor to photocopy the public record, write a correction, and to write a memo regarding the error. Claimant complied with her editor's request. On Monday, April 14, 1986, Claimant admitted to her editor that she learned of the mistake on Wednesday, April 9, 1986 and not on Friday, April 11, 1986. Claimant was subsequently discharged.
Based upon these facts, the Board concluded that Claimant was discharged for the error contained in her article, for not informing her editor of the error when she discovered it, and for misrepresenting to her editor that she learned of the error on April 11, 1986, when she had actually learned of the error on April 9, 1986. The Board further concluded that Claimant's reasons for not reporting the error when she learned of it were that she believed her Employer would be reluctant to publish any future stories regarding similar issues and because she had to fight to have her story regarding E.M. published. The Board rejected Claimant's argument and held that Claimant was ineligible for benefits because she did not have good cause for her actions.*fn2 This appeal followed.
The sole issue presented for our consideration on appeal is whether Claimant's conduct constituted willful misconduct rendering her ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits. Our scope of review in unemployment
[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 468]
compensation cases is limited to determining whether there has been a constitutional violation or an error of law and whether the necessary findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence. Section 704 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 704; Kirkwood v. Unemployment ...