A state appellate court has upheld a ruling that granted unemployment compensation benefits to a Freeland police officer who was fired after he suffered an emotional breakdown.
The state Commonwealth Court on Friday ruled the borough failed to provide sufficient evidence to support its position that Scott Michalesko had engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer.
Michalesko, who had worked for the borough since 2000, was fired in February based on an off-duty incident that occurred at his home on Dec. 22, 2011.
According to the court ruling, Michalesko became upset after he received a letter from the borough that day. His daughter discovered him crying and holding a handgun saying, I can't believe they are doing this to me.
Michalesko's daughter took the gun from him and he was transported to an area hospital.
The borough was notified of the incident and, because it was not immediately aware of Michalesko's whereabouts, placed the municipal offices on lockdown. Officials later learned he was at a hospital.
Based on the incident, the borough held a hearing and decided to fire Michalesko, arguing his conduct was contrary to acceptable standards of behavior and that his action reflected on his ability to perform his job.
An unemployment compensation referee disagreed and granted Michalesko benefits. The referee found the fact Michalesko sought treatment for an emotional breakdown does not in and of itself render (him) incapable of performing his duties.
The decision was later upheld by the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review.
In denying the borough's appeal, the Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey said the court agreed with the UCBR's determination that there was substantial evidence to support the referee's decision.