Saturday, March 12, 2016

UC - voluntary quit - temporary refusal to return to full-time work after childbirth

Havrilchak v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court – December 14, 2015 – reported by order of February 14, 2016

Woman returning to work after pregnancy held to have quit her job without good cause when her request for a limited period of part-time work was refused and she rejected employer’s offer of full-time work.  The employer was Physician’s Health Alliance.

The court saw claimant’s request as one to “unilaterially change the terms of her employment from full-time to part-time,” Senkinc v. UCBR, 601 A.2d 418, 420 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1991).   Because Employer offered Claimant full-time employment, which she refused, the totality of the circumstances reflect a voluntary quit, not a termination. Id.; see Andrevich v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review (Pa. Cmwlth., No. 658 C.D. 2010, filed March 7, 2011) (unreported), 2011 WL 10843696 (claimant’s refusal to return to work full-time after maternity leave constitutes a voluntary quit). As a consequence, Claimant is ineligible for benefits unless she can establish a necessitous and compelling reason for leaving her employment.

No good cause to have refused employer offer - Claimant asserted that a medical condition precluded her from returning to work full-time but didn't present evidence of that.  In her questionnaire, Claimant stated she left Employer for health reasons -- “post-partum depression anxiety.   A claimant has the burden to establish a medical condition as a compelling reason to leave work. Genetin v. UCBR, 451 A.2d 1353 (Pa. 1982).   Part of that burden involves submitting documentation substantiating a claimant’s medical condition to her employer. Bonanni v. UCBR, 519 A.2d 532 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1986).   Here, the record contains no indication that Claimant was unable to return to work full-time based on medical necessity.  Claimant admitted her doctor released her to return to work.

Claimant gave birth on October 18, was released to return to FT work on January 3, and was given an extra three weeks to recuperate.   Based on a “totality of circumstances,” the court rejected her argument that she had been fired, or that she had good cause to refuse the employer offer of full-time work.
N.B.  This opinion was not initially reported.   It was later reported on motion of the UCBR.  Claimant was pro se.

If the case is old, the link may have become stale and may not work, but you can use the case name, court, and date to find the opinion in another source (e.g., Westlaw, Lexis, Google Scholar)