Wednesday, April 21, 2010

UC - willful misconduct - threat to harm co-worker

Ball v. UCBR - Cmwlth. Court - April 21, 2010 - unreported memorandum decision

“[T]hreats of harm toward a supervisor or a coworker constitute conduct below the standards of behavior which an employer has a right to expect from an employee.” Sheets v. UCBR, 708 A.2d 884, 885 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1998). Moreover, a willful misconduct determination may be based on an employee’s verbal threat of harm even if no physical altercation ensues. See, e.g., Rodites v. UCBR, 382 A.2d 1287, 1287-88 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1978) (finding willful misconduct where employee, during heated exchange with councilman, “offered to take the councilman outside”); Wilson v. UCBR, 325 A.2d 500, 501 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1974) (finding willful misconduct where employee told co-worker that his manager “should get off [his] back or [he] would ship him out of there in a plastic bag” and weapons were later discovered in employee’s car); Zondler v. UCBR, 175 A.2d 149, 149-50 (Pa. Super. 1961) (finding willful misconduct where employee held pencil close to co-worker’s face and made stabbing motions, frightening co-worker).5

5 But see Blount v. UCBR, 466 A.2d 771 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1983) (concluding employee’s remark about bomb threat did not rise to level of willful misconduct where remark was made off-handedly and there was no indication he was capable of carrying out such threat).