Monday, January 18, 2016

UC - willful misconduct - negligent failure to follow employer policy

Clark v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court – January 6, 2016 – unreported memorandum opinion*

UCBR finding of willful misconduct reversed, since employer evidence failed to show that claimant, a liquor store manager, sough to wrongfully manipulated store records and steal money.  Employer did not show that claimant’s conduct was anything more than negligence.  Weighing in favor of claimant was the fact that the store inventory match the bottles on the shelf.

The issue was whether Claimant’s departure from Employer’s directions on record keeping constitutes willful misconduct.   Rung v. UCBR, 689 A.2d 999 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1997), is instructive in this regard. In Rung, the claimant was a bank teller who inexplicably came up $600 short when cashing out her till at the end of the day.   The court held that inadvertent, nonintentional violations of an employer’s policies do not constitute willful misconduct. Rung, 689 A.2d at 1001. Furthermore, we explained: [A]n employer cannot demonstrate willful misconduct by ‘merely showing that an employee committed a negligent act, but instead must present evidence indicating that the conduct was of an intentional and deliberate nature. Id. (emphasis added) (quoting Myers v. UCBR, 625 A.2d 622, 625 (Pa. 1993)). Because the claimant’s error was the result of nothing more than mere negligence, the claimant had not committed willful misconduct. Therefore, the claimant was entitled to unemployment benefits. Here, Claimant’s actions are analogous to the actions of the claimant in Rung.

* An unreported Commonwealth Court case may not be cited binding precedent but can be cited for its persuasive value.  See 210 Pa. Code § 69.414(b) and Pa. R.A.P.  3716

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