Tuesday, December 30, 2014

UC - willful misconduct - sarcastic comments

Scott v. UCBR – Pa. Cmwlth. December 12, 2014

An employee's sarcastic comments about a supervisor did not violate a work rule against insubordination where

            a) the comments were made in a private writing to senior management, and not directed to the supervisor himself

            b)  the claimant's comments were sarcastic and not "insubordinate" – as defined in the dictionary

            c) claimant's comments concerned the supervisor's decisions concerning a behavior plan for a group home resident with serious mental health problems

" Insubordination may be found where an employee speaks to a superior in an abusive, vulgar or offensive way. The actual language used by Claimant does not meet any of those descriptions. Claimant’s two statements were sarcastic,  but they were not directed to his supervisor. For an employer to forbid sarcasm in the workplace under any circumstances, there must be an explicit rule. In itself, the use of sarcasm cannot be equated to insubordination or any other kind of willful misconduct."
If the case is not recent, the link in this posting may not work.  In that case, search for the case by name and date on Westlaw, Lexis, Google Scholar, or the court website http://www.pacourts.us/courts/supreme-court/court-opinions/

UC - "primarily for religious purposes"

Beverly Hall Corp. v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court – December 15, 2014

The Court affirmed the UCBR decision that the employer did not operate primarily for religious purposes, as defined in 43 P.S. 404 (l)(4)(8))a)(ii), relying heavily on a non-reported decision, Grau v. UCBR, 2012 WL 8668282 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012)

The employer ran an organic CSA farm that was associated with the Church of Illumination, but the employer's own testimony showed that the employer organization was not created for religious purposes, but to perform the administrative, non-theological work of the church, such as ground and buildind maintenance and hiring.

The close financial connection between the employer and the church was held to be insufficient to exempt the employer, because a nonprofit corporation responsible solely for managing the admin. and finances of a religious organization is not operated primarily for religious purposes.

UC - telephone hearings - submission of documents prior to hearing

Beverly Hall Corp. v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court – December 15, 2014

The Court affirmed the UCBR decision, affirming the referee ruling that the employer could not introduce documents at the hearing, where a)  it had not submitted them 5 days in advance, as required by UC regs, 34 Pa. Code sec. 101.130, and b) the Dept. objected to their admission.

Every hearing notice that was sent to the parties indicated in bold print that the Dept. representative was going to participate by telephone in the case, which concerened whether the employer operated primarily for religious purposes.