Monday, January 12, 2009

UC - vol. quit - unjust accusations - abusive employer conduct

Yellow Breeches Educ. Center v. UCBR - Cmwtlh. Court January 12, 2009 - unreported mem. decision

Claimant had good cause to quit her job where the employer, in an abusive manner, unjustly accused her of insubordination.

A claimant need not indefinitely subject herself to unjust accusations and abusive conduct. First Federal Savings Bank v. UCBR, 957 A.2d 811 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008). However, resentment of a reprimand, absent unjust accusations, profane language or abusive conduct, does not amount to a necessitous and compelling cause. Id. Here, the UCBR found that Claimant was subject to unjust accusations and abusive conduct prior to Claimant’s leaving her employment.

The court distinguished St. Barnabas, Inc. v. UCBR, 525 A.2d 885 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1987), where it had not found abusive conduct when a supervisor made an unjust accusation against an employee and, in doing so, yelled at the employee with his office door ajar. In St. Barnabas, the employer had a handbook that required employees to report problems to higher management. There was no such policy here. Moreover, unlike the employee in St. Barnabas, Claimant made a good faith effort to resolve the problems with her supervisor by speaking directly with her. Therefore, St. Barnabas does not apply.

UC - vol. quit - marital, family, or domestic reasons - fiancée

Wagner v. UCBR - Cmwlth. Court - January 12, 2009

The court held that a claimant had good cause to quit his job under the following "marital, family or domestic reasons."

He took 28 days leave from his job in Iraq to lend support to his fiancée, who was dealing with a contentious custody battle with an abusive ex-boyfriend, and a child who suffered from a congenital heart defect and microcephaly. Claimant left to return to Iraq but found that he was unable to handle the issues in his home life from that significant distance. He spoke to his manager to try to get a job in the US but was told none were available and that, in any event, he was not eligible for such a job even it it existed. He then resigned and returned home.

Family obligations can be sufficiently necessitous and compelling to entitle a claimant to unemployment compensation benefits. Wallace v. UCBR, 393 A.2d 43 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1978) (declared unconstitutional the section of the UC Law that disqualified from benefits claimants who voluntarily terminate their employment for marital, filial or domestic reasons).

The Supreme Court in Taylor v. UCBR, 474 Pa. 351, 359, 378 A.2d 829, 833 (1977) held that if a worker leaves his employment when he is compelled to do so by necessitous circumstances or because of legal or family obligations, his leaving is voluntary with good cause, and under the act he is entitled to benefits. The pressure of necessity, of legal duty, or family obligations, or other overpowering circumstances and his capitulation to them transform what is ostensibly voluntary unemployment into involuntary unemployment. Accord, Bliley Elec. Co. v. UCBR, 45 A.2d 898 (Pa. Super. 1946)); Beachem v. UCBR, 760 A.2d 68 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000) (claimant when he quit his job to return to live with his son, who was suffering from emotional and behavioral problems in his absence); Speck v. UCBR, 680 A.2d 27 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1996) (claimant quit his job when a transfer created a daily commute consisting of 337 miles each way and he was newly married, and the only child of a parent who needed his assistance from time to time due to a heart condition.)