Palmer Township v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 021820 PACCA, 86 C.D. 2019

Docket Nº:86 C.D. 2019
Opinion Judge:MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, PRESIDENT JUDGE
Party Name:Palmer Township, Petitioner v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, Respondent
Judge Panel:BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, PRESIDENT JUDGE HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, JUDGE HONORABLE CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON, JUDGE
Case Date:February 18, 2020
Court:Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
 
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Palmer Township, Petitioner

v.

Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, Respondent

No. 86 C.D. 2019

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

February 18, 2020

OPINION NOT REPORTED

Submitted: October 4, 2019

BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, PRESIDENT JUDGE HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, JUDGE HONORABLE CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON, JUDGE

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, PRESIDENT JUDGE

Palmer Township (Employer) petitions for review of an adjudication of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) granting John Heaton's (Claimant) claim for unemployment benefits. In doing so, the Board reversed the Referee's decision that Claimant was ineligible for benefits under Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law), 1 by reason of his willful misconduct. In this appeal, we consider whether the Board erred in concluding that Claimant demonstrated good cause for his conduct.

Claimant worked for Employer as a full-time truck driver and laborer for approximately 26 years. On June 22, 2018, after parking his work truck in Employer's garage, Claimant experienced a sudden urge to urinate and relieved himself on the garage floor. When questioned by Employer, Claimant acknowledged the incident but attributed it to a medical condition. Employer discharged Claimant as a result of this incident.2

Claimant applied for unemployment compensation benefits with the local service center, which denied benefits for the stated reason that Claimant committed willful misconduct. Claimant appealed, and a hearing was held before a Referee.

At the Referee hearing, Employer presented the testimony of four witnesses.3 Claimant presented both testimonial and documentary evidence.

Scott Kistler, Superintendent of Public Works for Palmer Township, testified that approximately ten years ago there had been a similar incident, and Kistler informed Claimant that Employer did not tolerate such conduct. With respect to the incident that caused Claimant's discharge, Kistler testified that he confronted Claimant, who acknowledged what he had done. Claimant explained that his medical condition caused the incident. Specifically, Claimant told Kistler that he had "gastric bypass surgery a number of years prior and that this sudden inner urge to urinate was the result of that gastric bypass surgery." Notes of Testimony, 9/13/2018, at 10 (N.T.___); R.R. 44a. Kistler testified Claimant had never requested an accommodation for any medical issue.

Christopher Christman, Palmer Township Manager, testified that he interviewed Claimant, who admitted to his conduct. Claimant stated that he "had a sense of urgency [and] had to go" but acknowledged that he "did not make an attempt to get to the bathroom [before] urinat[ing] by his truck side." N.T. 31; R.R. 65a. Christman testified that Claimant provided medical documentation stating that Claimant's gastric bypass surgery caused dehydration. For this reason, Claimant must constantly drink water, which causes him to urinate more frequently. Another medical document stated that Claimant's medication caused frequent urination.

Claimant testified that on June 22, 2018, he worked a long day with a crew to blacktop a stretch of road. At the end of the day, he returned the truck to Employer's garage. Upon exiting the vehicle, he had a sudden urge to urinate. Claimant testified that he could not...

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