present case, the labor agreement in those cases contained a specific prohibition against cursing to a customer. The absence of a specific prohibition is of course not determinative. In fact the agreement in issue here does not purport to define just cause or set out a catalogue of infractions which may serve as grounds for dismissal. Certainly the use of abusive or obscene language directed to a customer is a serious infraction and, as these other decisions and other labor agreements would indicate, is ample basis for dismissal.
Plaintiffs also argue that Grandstaff did not intend for the pilot to hear his epithet. First of all we doubt this assertion because Grandstaff admittedly uttered the word aloud in the presence of the pilot. But in any event, intent is not at issue. The customer heard the remark. It was certainly foreseeable that he would hear the remark. The customer understood that the epithet referred to him and he was offended. The risk of damage to the company's business is not diminished by the fact that the employee hoped the customer would not hear the abusive reference, and the company is entitled to protect itself against the recurrence of such behavior.
Finally, plaintiffs ignore the rest of Grandstaff's disciplinary history. Grandstaff had committed a number of serious infractions in the 2 months preceding his discharge. On one occasion he came to work out of uniform after having been admonished only several days earlier about the same offense! He had received repeated warnings concerning excessive absenteeism, leaving before completion of his shift and disregard for his job performance. After being warned again by his supervisor on December 27, 1985, Grandstaff told the supervisor to "piss off".
These incidents, if not individually, then collectively, constitute ample grounds for discharge on a just cause standard. These infractions all occurred within the 2 months prior to discharge and Grandstaff does not deny them. The repeated infractions evidence an unwillingness to conform his conduct to the company's legitimate requirements. Such conduct need not be tolerated by an employer.
In their cross-motion for summary judgment plaintiffs provide a copy of the decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review awarding unemployment benefits to Grandstaff. It is argued that this decision is entitled to collateral estoppel effect, preventing the Company from defending the present suit. We note, however, that the issue in the administrative proceedings differs greatly from the issue here. Under the Unemployment Compensation Act, Grandstaff could only be denied benefits if he was guilty of "willful misconduct". 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 802(e). Under the labor agreement, Grandstaff could be discharged for "just cause", which is not limited to willful misconduct. Also, the Board's decision is limited to a consideration of the January 13, 1986 incident. In considering appropriate disciplinary measures the Company is entitled to consider prior disciplinary history. Collateral estoppel does not apply because the issues are dissimilar. We do not rule on defendants' contention that administrative decisions may not be accorded collateral estoppel effect in court actions.
For the reasons stated summary judgment in favor of defendants is appropriate. An order will be entered.
AND NOW, in accord with the accompanying Opinion it is hereby ORDERED that Summary Judgment is ENTERED in favor of defendants. The Clerk is DIRECTED to mark this matter CLOSED.
SO ORDERED this 7th day of July, 1988.
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