Submitted: March 8, 2018
BEFORE: HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge, HONORABLE ANNE E.
COVEY, Judge, HONORABLE CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON, Judge
E. COVEY, JUDGE
Sipps (Claimant) petitions this Court for review of the
Unemployment Compensation (UC) Board of Review's (UCBR)
April 4, 2017 order affirming the Referee's decision, as
modified, denying Claimant UC benefits under Section 402(e)
of the UC Law (Law). Essentially, Claimant presents one issue
for this Court's review: whether the UCBR erred by
concluding that Claimant committed willful
misconduct. After review, we affirm.
was employed by G4S Security Solutions (Employer) as a
fulltime security officer from January 9, 2012 through
December 4, 2016. Employer provides 24-hour security for
State Farm. See Certified Record (C.R.) Item 10,
Notes of Testimony, February 17, 2017 (N.T.) Ex. 13 at 10. On
January 13, 2012, Claimant acknowledged Employer's
Security Officer Handbook policy that "[g]rounds for
[i]mmediate [d]ismissal" include "[f]ailure to
report immediately an arrest . . . to your supervisor."
N.T. Ex. 13 at 2; see also N.T. Exs. 10, 14-17.
December 5, 2016, Claimant was arrested on criminal charges
and held in Delaware County prison until he was released at
approximately 10:00 p.m. that day. On December 6, 2016,
Employer learned from a news report that Claimant had been
arrested. At approximately 7:30 p.m. that same day, Claimant
notified Employer of his arrest. Employer discharged Claimant
for violating its arrest reporting policy.
applied for UC benefits. On January 19, 2017, the Erie UC
Service Center determined that Claimant was not eligible for
UC benefits pursuant to Section 402(e) of the Law. Claimant
appealed and a Referee hearing was held on February 17, 2017,
at which Claimant appeared pro se. On February 22, 2017, the
Referee affirmed the UC Service Center's determination.
Claimant appealed to the UCBR. On April 4, 2017, the UCBR
adopted and incorporated the Referee's findings and
conclusions, as modified, and affirmed the Referee's
decision. Claimant appealed to this Court.
Section 402(e) of the Law provides that an employee is
ineligible for [UC] benefits when his unemployment is due to
discharge from work for willful misconduct connected to his
work. The employer bears the burden of proving willful
misconduct in a [UC] case. Willful misconduct has been
defined as (1) an act of wanton or willful disregard of the
employer's interest; (2) a deliberate violation
of the employer's rules; (3) a disregard of
standards of behavior which the employer has a right to
expect of an employee; or (4) negligence
indicating an intentional disregard of the employer's
interest or a disregard of the employee's duties and
obligations to the employer.
Dep't of Transp. v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of
Review, 755 A.2d 744, 747 n.4 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000)
(citation omitted; emphasis added).
Where willful misconduct is based upon the violation of a
work rule, the employer must establish the existence of the
rule, its reasonableness, and that the employee was aware of
the rule. Once employer meets this burden, the burden shifts
to the claimant to prove that the rule was unreasonable or
that he had good cause for violating the rule.
Weingard v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 26
A.3d 571, 574-75 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2011) (citation omitted).
"A claimant has good cause if his . . . actions are
justifiable and reasonable under the circumstances."
Grand Sport Auto Body v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of
Review, 55 A.3d 186, 190 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012) (quoting
Docherty v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 898
A.2d 1205, 1208-09 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006)). Ultimately,
"[t]he question of whether conduct rises to the level of
willful misconduct is a question of law to be determined by
this Court." Scott v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of
Review, 105 A.3d 839, 844 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2014).
instant matter, Claimant does not dispute that Employer had a
policy relative to immediately reporting an arrest, that he
was aware of it, or that it was reasonable. It is also
uncontested that Claimant notified Employer of his arrest on
the evening of December 6, 2016. Thus, at issue here is
whether, under these specific facts, Claimant
"immediately" reported his arrest to Employer as
required by Employer's policy and, if not, whether
Claimant had good cause for failing to do so.
hearing, Employer's human resources representative Leslie
Frescatore (Frescatore) testified that Claimant's
employment was terminated because he failed to immediately
report his December 5, 2016 arrest. She recounted that
Employer became aware of Claimant's arrest on December 6,
2016 based on news reports. See N.T. at 6.
Frescatore explained that Claimant or anyone on his behalf
could have reported Claimant's arrest directly to his
supervisor, to Employer's local office during business
hours, or to Employer's corporate office in Florida that
would have answered the phone after hours and emailed the
local office. See N.T. at 7.
testified that he worked on December 4, 2016, and was not
scheduled to work again until Wednesday evening, December 8,
2016. He recounted that he was incarcerated for
approximately eight hours following his December 5, 2016
arrest, and was released at approximately 10:00 p.m. after he
posted bail.,  See N.T. at 8, 11. Claimant
testified he was aware of Employer's policy, see
N.T. at 10, but asserted he could not report his arrest to
Employer on December 5th because he did not have a
cell phone or access to a telephone during the time he was
incarcerated. See N.T. at 8, 10. He admitted that he
had access to a telephone and used a computer after his
December 5th release, and acknowledged that
calling Employer would take only five minutes. See
N.T. at 11. Claimant reported that he nevertheless notified
Employer of his arrest on December 6th between
7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. See N.T. at 9.
explained that he did not call his supervisor on the morning
of December 6th because he was not scheduled to
work until Wednesday and, in the meantime, he prioritized
what he had to accomplish to comply with the judge's
orders, such as filing paperwork and finding a lawyer.
See N.T. at 9-11. When asked why he did not contact
his supervisor after his 10:00 p.m. release on December
5th, Claimant maintained:
C Well, sometimes he's hard to get a hold of. He
doesn't answer right away, and especially at nighttime. I
was being more considerate and concerned with him, because he
has a wife that's ...