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Earley wins unemployment compensation; borough loses appeal

June 20, 2012

Wayne Earley, Honesdale Borough’s former zoning officer who was fired by the borough council on March 12, applied for unemployment compensation and got it. The borough council did not support his application and appealed the decision.

According to records in the unemployment compensation office, Earley’s initial application was accepted. The records show that the borough then appealed the decision, going before the referee with Earley’s attorney, Mark Zimmer. The referee rejected the borough’s position.

The ruling by the referee, Marlene Graham, reads as follows: “While the referee does not question the right of an employer to discharge an employee for any reason whatsoever, in order to deny the employee unemployment compensation, it must first be shown that the claimant was guilty of willful misconduct with his work as is contemplated by Section 402(e) of the law.

"It has not been established here that the claimant’s discharge was attributable to willful misconduct. While the claimant may, in the eyes of the employer, have been an unsatisfactory employee, and the employer may have been justified in discharging the claimant, the denial of benefits cannot be predicated on such grounds. Therefore, the claimant is not disqualified under the provisions of Section 402(e) of the law.”

Regarding allegations that Earley had been working as a zoning officer without the necessary licenses, a representative of the state Department of Labor and Industry said that Earley had seven valid licenses, two in commercial and five in residential.

“I talked to Ed Leister, Director of Occupational and Industrial Safety, who told me that Earley had seven valid certifications but that there were several public complaints against him,” said Lindsay Bracale, assistant press officer for the Department of Labor and Industry. She could not give any further information on the investigation. “We do not comment until the complaints are answered,” she said.

“You have to be careful in examining the various categories of licenses,” said Scott Smith, chairman of the borough’s financial committee. “He was qualified to issue permits in some of them but not certified to inspect the work. There were a number of instances where this was true in commercial permits and inspections. He was the building officer for commercial permits but was not qualified to inspect. He did not have residential permits until 2010. When this council took office, he had these permits but we could not comment on matters before we took office.”