Friday, April 13, 2012

UC - willful misconduct v. inadvertent mistakes

Dissinger and Dissinger v. UCBR - April 13, 2012 - unreported memorandum opinion

An employee’s failure to work up to her full, proven ability, especially after multiple warnings regarding poor work performance, must be construed as willful misconduct because such conduct shows an intentional disregard of the employer’s interest or the employee’s obligations and duties. However, a finding that a claimant worked to the best of her ability negates a conclusion of willful misconduct. Norman Ashton Klinger & Assocs., P.C. v. UCBR, 561 A.2d 841 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1989); Radio Station WVCH v. UCBR, 430 A.2d 737 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1981). Mere incompetence, incapacity or inexperience causing poor work performance will not support a discharge for willful misconduct. Geslao v. UCBR, 519 A.2d 1096 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1987).

Here, the Board credited Claimant’s testimony that she worked to the best of her ability, and it determined Employer did not show "[C]laimant’s shortcomings were intentional." The Board also credited Claimant’s testimony that she made mistakes when Employer gave her several tasks to complete at one time. The Board also found Employer did not formally discipline Claimant. These findings are amply supported.

In any event, to be disqualifying, an employee’s rule violation must be knowing and intentional or deliberate. Phila. Parking Auth. v. UCBR, 1 A.3d 965 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010). An inadvertent rule violation is not willful misconduct. Morysville Body Works, Inc. v. UCBR, 419 A.2d 238 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1980). Here, the Board specifically determined Employer did not show Claimant’s actions were intentional; consequently, this could not form the basis for a determination of willful misconduct.


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.