Thursday, April 12, 2012

UC - vol. quit - transportation problems - seeking help from employer

Baker v. UCBR - April 12, 2012 - Cmwlth. Court - unreported memorandum decision

Transportation inconveniences may rise to the level of a necessitous and compelling reason for voluntarily terminating one’s employment if the transportation problems are "so serious and unreasonable as to present a virtually insurmountable problem." J.C. Penney Co., Inc. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 457 A.2d 161, 163 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1983) (citation omitted). However, "the claimant must demonstrate that . . . she took reasonable steps to remedy or overcome the transportation problems prior to severing the employment relationship." Id. (citation omitted).

In Yurack v. UCBR 435 A.2d 663, 664 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1981), in which a claimant voluntarily resigned her position because she could no longer drive for medical reasons, this Court held that the claimant "should [have] request[ed] her employer’s assistance in finding transportation" before resigning. We noted that "[h]ad such a request been made . . . her employer might have helped [the c]laimant make arrangements with a co-worker to alter his or her commuting arrangements to include [the c]laimant. Alternatively, the employer might have been able to arrange a carpool with employees." Id. However, because she had not taken such actions, we held that the claimant could not "claim the [transportation] problem [was] insurmountable and that her termination was for necessitous and compelling reason." Id. Similarly, in Latzy, we held that the claimant, who had been furloughed from one position, had not established necessitous and compelling cause to reject a job offer at a different location because, although she had inquired about public transportation as a way to get to the new position, she "fail[ed] to investigate the possibility of riding to work with other employees and to ask for the [employer’s] assistance." Latzy, 487 A.2d at 123. We stated that such failure "is not consistent with one desiring to remain employed" and did not establish that the claimant "took reasonable steps to overcome her transportation difficulties." Id.

Here, as in Latzy and Yurack, Claimant did inquire into other means of transportation to work once it became clear that assistance would not be forthcoming from Lancaster or Berks counties. Indeed, Claimant went beyond the efforts of the claimants in Latzy and Yurack by, inter alia, contacting her state senator for assistance. However, also like the claimants in Latzy and Yurack, Claimant did not discuss her transportation problems with Employer, thereby preventing Employer and Claimant from inquiring into whether Claimant could obtain a ride with a co-worker. Although Claimant asserts that such an inquiry would have been futile because Employer did not offer carpooling or a car/van service, we have held that a claimant cannot rely upon the claimant’s own presumption or assumption that it would be futile to seek the employer’s assistance, but must present evidence to support the alleged futility. Dickhoff v. UCBR, 449 A.2d 807, 810 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1982) (citing Yurack). Claimant did not present any evidence of the futility of informing Employer of her transportation difficulties and, although Employer indicated that it did not offer a car/van service or a stipend for transportation services, Employer’s General Manager/Human Resources Director testified that, had Claimant come to her, Employer would have spoken with other employees to see if Claimant could have gotten a ride to work with one of her co-workers. In fact, the General Manager stated that, knowing her staff, she would not have been surprised if a co-worker would have offered Claimant transport to and from work.

Although we sympathize with Claimant and acknowledge the efforts she did make to resolve her transportation difficulties, we conclude, as we did in Latzy and Yurack, that Claimant did not make reasonable efforts to resolve her transportation problems when she did not inform Employer of those difficulties.


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.