Tuesday, May 13, 2008

UC - subpoenas - testimony material to outcome

Horton v. UCBR - May 12, 2008 - Commonwealth Court


Claimant was fired when he refused to obey a superior's order about processing incoming orders. Claimant alleged that the employer vice-president would testify about company policy and would establish good cause for his refusal to obey the order and requested that the referee issue a subpoena. The referee refused and found claimant guilty of willful misconduct.

The court reversed and remanded. "Whether the failure to issue a subpoena to allow the vice-president to testify was harmless error is determined by whether his testimony would have been material to the outcome of the case. Hussey Copper Ltd. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 718 A.2d 894 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1998).

'Given that it was the vice-president not claimant's supervisor that terminated him and was in charge of the policy, the Referee’s failure to allow Claimant to subpoena the vice-president regarding the company policy on receiving merchandise, what the V.P. had told Claimant about that policy when he hired him, and whether he was required to follow the directives of the supervisor to ignore the policy was not harmless error because it took away his ability to establish “good cause” for not following the supervisor's directive. Because the V.P.'s testimony was material to deciding the case, it was not harmless error to refuse the subpoena