Tuesday, July 31, 2012

UC - willful misconduct - progressive disciplinary system

Hughes v. UCBR - Cmwlth. Court - unreported memorandum decision


Court reversed Board in this willful misconduct case.

An employee’s conduct cannot be considered willful misconduct for unemployment compensation purposes when the employer has not adhered to its own progressive disciplinary system in discharging the employee. Looney v. UCBR, 529 A.2d 612, 614 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1987).

Employer's administrator conceded that ER did not follow its own progressive discipline policy before it terminated Claimant. The administrator testified that the policy requires two corrective actions prior to termination: a verbal discussion with the employee and a written warning. It is undisputed that Claimant was never provided with a written warning about her handling of the financial records. Further, there was no evidence that the infraction at issue would warrant deviating from the progressive discipline policy. See, e.g., Frigm v. UCBR, 642 A.2d 629, 634 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1994) (employer’s personnel policy expressly provided that "a serious offense may warrant immediate discharge."). The ER witness did not assert that Claimant’s conduct was an "egregious circumstance" that provided an exception to the progressive discipline procedures. Indeed, the pages of the handbook that allow for immediate discharge for "egregious circumstances" were not offered into evidence by Employer.

In addition, there was "absolutely no evidence" to support the critical finding that Claimant had a conflict of interest.


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.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress

Full discussion of Pennsylvania law on this issue in

Messer v. First Financial - ED Pa. - July 30, 2012