Wednesday, January 30, 2013

UC - religious institution - "employment"

Livny v. UCBR – January 29, 2013


Judy Livny (Claimant) petitions for review, pro se, of the June 12, 2012, order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (UCBR) affirming the decision of a referee to deny Claimant unemployment compensation benefits. The UCBR found that Claimant was ineligible for benefits because Claimant’s work for Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley (Employer) did not constitute “employment” under section 4(l)(4)(8)(a)(ii) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).1 We affirm.

The referee concluded that Employer is a religious educational institution and, therefore, Claimant’s work for Employer was not “employment” under section 4(l)(4)(8)(a)(ii) of the Law.
We begin by noting that the second prong of section 4(l)(4)(8)(a)(ii), requiring the organization to be operated or controlled by a church, was declared unconstitutional in Christian School Association of Greater Harrisburg v. Department of Labor and Industry, 423 A.2d 1340, 1347 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1980) (en banc). As a result, we must limit our inquiry under section 4(l)(4)(8)(a)(ii) to the first prong, i.e., whether Employer is operated primarily for religious purposes. See Imani Christian Academy v. UCBR, 42 A.3d 1171, 1174-75 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012). We conclude that it is.

We conclude that the record contains substantial evidence to support the UCBR’s conclusion that Employer operates primarily for religious purposes under section 4(l)(4)(8)(a)(ii) of the Law. See, e.g., Christian School Association, 423 A.2d at 1345 (concluding that certain religion-affiliated schools were operated primarily for religious purposes where, “in addition to offering actual religious instruction and prayer, each school attempts to emphasize its respective religious principles on a daily basis in its presentation of even secular subjects”).

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