By: Rob Harris
“Attendance at a special annual golf tournament, even one in memory of a family member, does not fall within the category excusing intentional violation of a known work rule.”
So ruled the Honorable Robert Simpson, Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.
In this case, the tournament was held in honor of Jay A. Ryan Sr., father of Jay A. Ryan Jr. The younger Mr. Ryan sought to take a day off of work to attend the tournament. His request was denied by the company president on the basis that Mr. Ryan had no remaining vacation time.
Mr. Ryan nonetheless attended the tournament. He was fired from work for insubordination. His subsequent request for unemployment compensation was denied, with the court finding that his “unemployment is due to willful misconduct connected to his work.”
Before cringing at the thought of an employer refusing an employee’s request to attend his father’s memorial golf tournament, consider the following:
- The previous month, Mr. Ryan “either left work early, or was late to work, every day for a week. In response, Employer gave Claimant a written disciplinary warning regarding his poor attendance.”
- Mr. Ryan submitted into evidence a purported email from his boss, stating “I have reconsidered your request. You will be off August 16 for your father’s golf tournament. Instead, you will work your regularly scheduled day off on Wednesday August 14.” The boss, however, claimed that she “absolutely did not” send that email, and the tribunal apparently concluded that Mr. Ryan somehow had fabricated it.