Tuesday, June 09, 2015

admin. law - evidence - when silence is an admission

Lancaster EMS Assn. v. UCBR – June 4, 2015 – unreported memorandum opinion



Board decision in favor of claimant affirmed.  Employer appeal dismissed


silence as admission

“Silence is considered an admission, only when the circumstances are such that one ought to speak and does not.” McIntyre v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 687 A.2d 416, 418 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1997). We define these circumstances in the context of the events surrounding discharge, such as when the person presenting the information is a supervisor with an ability to terminate an employee, and the employee refused to deny the accusation. Id.   We declined to find an admission by silence when a claimant is testifying at a UC hearing. See Carson v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 711 A.2d 582 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1998).  This Court holds the law on implied admissions does not lessen an employer’s burden of proof in a willful misconduct case. Id.; see also Snyder v.  Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review (Pa. Cmwlth., No. 104 C.D. 2013, filed August 27, 2013) (unreported), 2013 WL 4530950, *5 (distinguishing claimant’s statement in UC hearing with statement to employer at the time she was confronted with misconduct). We reasoned “it is not appropriate to require a claimant to deny uncorroborated, hearsay allegations raised by an employer at a hearing, particularly when the burden of proof lies with [the] employer.” Carson, 711 A.2d at 584; Snyder 2013 WL 4530950, *5 (holding employer is required to “present independent, competent testimony corroborating an accusation of misconduct before the Court may make an adverse inference from a claimant’s silence.”).


The opinion, though not reported, may be cited "for its persuasive value, but not as binding precedent."    210 Pa. Code 69.414.


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