Thursday, September 19, 2013

Workplace Threats? Kiss Your Job and Your Unemployment Compensation Goodbye

In Zuraski v. UCBR, the employer terminated an employee after he was heard saying that his supervisors "don't deserve to live" and "I'm going to come into this place and spray it with bullets." This was actually his third incident involving threatening behavior.

Not surprisingly, the Unemployment Compensation Referee, UCBR, and Commonwealth Court all agreed that the employee had engaged in "willful misconduct" and was therefore ineligible for benefits. Notably, the Court concluded that the employee had violated a workplace rule, but even if he hadn't - "Claimant's conduct was beneath the standards of behavior that Employer had a right to expect of its employees." In other words, he wouldn't have been eligible for UC even if the employer didn't have a rule (I'd still recommend some type of workplace violence policy though).

Straight from the "he just doesn't get it" file - I'd also like to point out the Claimant's actual testimony:
C: I don't know what's threatening about wishing someone dead. This is what I said.

R: Wait, wait, wait. You don't know what's threatening about wishing someone dead? Did you just say that?

C: Yeah. Yeah. What's threatening? So I wish someone dead?, I didn't say I was going to do anything about it, there's nothing threatening about that, in my eyes....

* * *

C: Right, I, said, people like Tom Fedorko don't deserve to live and neither does Bosnik because he don't do nothing about it.... I didn't say I was going to come in there, I said you're lucky that someone don't come in here and spray bullets. That's what I said.
Apparently, the Referee, UCBR, and now Court didn't quite appreciate the nuance (and frankly, neither do I).

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