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JULIUS A. PETRONE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/13/89)

decided: April 13, 1989.

JULIUS A. PETRONE, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, in the case of In Re: Claim of Julius A. Petrone, No. B-261025.

COUNSEL

Charles E. Dennis, Sr., Mozenter, Molloy & Durst, for petitioner.

Maribeth Wilt-Seibert, Assistant Counsel, with her, Clifford F. Blaze, Deputy Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Barry and Smith, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry. Judge MacPhail did not participate in the decision in this case. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Smith.

Author: Barry

[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 129]

Julius A. Petrone (Claimant) petitions for our review of an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which reversed a decision of a referee and denied benefits under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law), Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. ยง 802(e) (willful misconduct).*fn1 We reverse.

The Claimant was last employed by the City of Philadelphia (Employer) as a police officer. He was suspended pending an investigation into his suspected illegal activity on the job and was subsequently discharged.

The Claimant applied for benefits which were denied by the Office of Employment Security (OES). The Claimant appealed to the referee who reversed the OES determination and granted benefits. The Employer appealed to the Board which denied benefits pursuant to Section 402(e) of the Law. The Claimant now petitions this Court for review of the Board's order.

Our scope of review is limited to determining whether necessary findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, whether an error of law was committed or whether constitutional rights were violated. Kirkwood v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 106 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 92, 525 A.2d 841 (1987).

In unemployment compensation proceedings, the employer bears the burden of proving willful misconduct. Williams v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 109 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 329, 531 A.2d 88 (1987). Whether the acts of a claimant constitute willful misconduct is a question of law subject to this Court's review. Heins v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 111 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 604, 534 A.2d 592 (1987). We have defined willful misconduct as a wanton

[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 130]

    and willful disregard of an employer's interests, a deliberate violation of an employer's rules, a disregard of the standards of behavior which an employer can rightfully expect of an employee, or negligence manifesting culpability, wrongful intent, evil design or intentional and substantial disregard of an employer's interests or an employee's duties and obligations. Id.

The Claimant and a representative of the Employer appeared at the hearing before the referee. Both parties were represented by counsel. The hearing began with the admission, without objection, of the documents submitted to the referee by OES. Among the documents admitted was the Employer's notice of intention to dismiss. The notice included, inter alia, a statement that on October 14, 1986, the Claimant was arrested and charged with thirty counts of bribery, thirty counts of obstruction of the administration of law, two counts of tampering ...


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