Thursday, November 10, 2011

UC - vol. quit - health reasons - able/available

Tracy v. UCBR - Cmwlth. Court - November 10, 2011 - unreported memorandum opinion

To be eligible for benefits under Section 402(b) of the Law, a claimant must prove that the separation from employment was for a necessitous and compelling reason. Diehl v. UCBR, 4 A.3d 816 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010), appeal granted, ___ Pa. ___, 20 A.3d 1192 (2011).

To meet that burden, the claimant must demonstrate circumstances which placed a real and substantial pressure upon him or her to terminate employment that would compel a reasonable person to act in the same manner. Smithley v. UCBR, 8 A.3d 1027 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010). Whether the claimant's termination of employment was for a necessitous and compelling reason is a question of law subject to this Court's plenary review. W. & S. Life Ins. Co. v. UCBR, 913 A.2d 331 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006).

Health problems, including an emotional or psychological disorder, can constitute a necessitous and compelling reason to terminate employment. Genetin v. UCBR, 499 Pa. 125, 451 A.2d 1353 (1982); Beattie v. UCBR, 500 A.2d 496 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1985). To establish a necessitous and compelling health reason for leaving employment, the claimant must: (1) present competent evidence of an adequate health reason justifying termination of employment; (2) have informed the employer of the health problems; and (3) be able and available to perform work which is not inimical to his or her health, if a reasonable accommodation is made by the employer. Ridley Sch. Dist. v. UCBR, 637 A.2d 749 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1994). The claimant, who has failed to meet any of these requirements, is ineligible for benefits. Ruckstuhl v. UCBR, 426 A.2d 719 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1981).

A necessitous and compelling health reason can be established by any competent medical or non-medical evidence. Cent. Data Ctr. v. UCBR, 458 A.2d 335 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1983). Claimant presented the evidence that she suffered from depression and anxiety. Claimant admitted, however, that she did not "tell …Employer that [she was] leaving because of health reasons." She was also required to demonstrate that she was able to work and available for suitable work, because the Law is not intended to provide health and disability benefits for ill employees. Section 401(d)(1) of the Law, 43 P.S. § 801(d)(1); Genetin. She was on a medical leave and was receiving disability benefits when she left her employment. Her treating physician did not release her to return to work because her condition prevented her from working in any kind of position with or without restrictions. Hence, Claimant failed to establish that she was able to work and available for suitable work.

The opinion, though not reported, may be cited "for its persuasive value, but not as binding precedent." 210 Pa. Code § 67.55. Citing Judicial Opinions.