Wednesday, July 13, 2011

UC - rule violation; sec. 3, - criminal conviction

Green v. UCBR - Cmwlth. Court - July 13, 2011 - unpublished memorandum opinion




Rule violation - Supervisory, management employee did not violate a rule which applied, on its face, only to non-supervisory, non-management employees.


Sec. 3 - Claimant did not violate sec. 3, even though he was charged with a number of serious non-work-related offenses, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of a person less than 16 years of age, aggravated indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age; indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors. All but one of the criminal charges were dismissed, and claimant pleaded nolo contendere to the one remaining charge, endangering the welfare of children, a misdemeanor. He received a sentence of three years of probation, was ordered to have no contact with the minor involved in the incident, and to comply with a mental health evaluation if necessary.

Section 3 can operate to disqualify claimants on the basis of off-duty, non-job related misconduct. Claimants can be found ineligible only if their behavior “(1) is inconsistent with acceptable standards of behavior, and (2) directly reflects upon his or her ability to perform the assigned duties.” Martin v. UCBR, 713 A.2d 753, 754 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1998) [citing UCBR v. Derk, 353 A.2d 915, 917 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1976)].


A criminal conviction is considered conclusive proof of the facts charged, and often is sufficient to prove the first prong of this test, Hawkins v. UCBR, 695 A.2d 963 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1997), but in evaluating the second prong, a number of factors must be considered, including: (a) the specific nature of the offense committed by Claimant; (b) the nature of Claimant's assigned duties; (c) whether Claimant's job requires any special degree of trust on the part of the employer; and (d) any other circumstances which may particularly affect Claimant's ability to do his job, including whether the crime occurred on or off Employer's premises, and whether or not it involved any of Employer's other workers or clients. SEPTA v. UCBR, 506 A.2d 974, 977 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1986).


In this case, the claimant plea of nolo contendere to the charge of endangering the welfare of a child is sufficient to prove the first prong, but UPMC offered no evidence which would satisfy the second prong by showing that the conviction directly reflects upon claimant’s ability to perform his assigned duties. In the record, there is scant evidence of the conduct underlying the conviction, no evidence whatsoever of claimant's duties or the degree of trust placed in him by his employer, and no reasons offered why the conviction would affect Green’s ability to do his job.


The Board’s finding that claimant’s conviction directly reflects upon his ability to perform his assigned duties is not supported by substantial evidence. The Board, therefore, erred in finding claimant ineligible under Section 3 of the Law.


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The opinion, though not reported, may be cited "for its persuasive value, but not as binding precedent." 210 Pa. Code § 67.55. Citing Judicial Opinions.

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