Monday, August 08, 2011

UC - willful misconduct - violation of employer rules

Gibbs v. UCBR - Cmwlth. Court - August 5, 2011 - unpublished memorandum opinion.

This opinion (which upheld a denial of benefits) contains a summary of some of the factors that may beinvolved in a work-rule violation case.

If an employer alleges that a claimant committed willful misconduct by violating a work rule, the employer must establish the existence of a reasonable work rule and that the claimant knowingly violated the work rule. Williams v. UCBR, 596 A.2d 1191, 1193 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1991) (citing Connelly v. UCBR, 450 A.2d 245 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1982)); BK Foods, Inc. v. UCBR, 547 A.2d 873, 875 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1988).

A work rule can be conveyed orally, but any requests for conduct expressed to an employee by an employer must not contradict the employer’s written policies. LeGare v. UCBR, 498 Pa. 72, 77-79, 444 A.2d 1151, 1153-54 (1982); see, e.g., Williams, 596 A.2d at 1191, 1192 (finding claimant ineligible for UC benefits when claimant was informed of a new parking policy, and violated that policy after repeated warnings); Teasley v. UCBR, 431 A.2d 1155, 1157 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1981) (finding claimant ineligible for UC benefits when claimant violated a rule which was orally conveyed individually and at staff meetings); McAlister v. UCBR, 395 A.2d 660, 661 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1978) (finding claimant ineligible for UC benefits when claimant took ten vacation days when told by employer to take eight).

If an employer satisfies its burden of proof, the burden then shifts to the claimant to establish good cause for violating the rule. Frumento v. UCBR, 466 Pa. 81, 87, 351 A.2d 631, 634 (1976). A claimant establishes good cause when "the action of the employee is justifiable or reasonable under the circumstances." Id.


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.