Monday, February 27, 2017

UC - due process - notice of issues

Held:  Claimant denied due process where notice of determination indicated one critical time period, but another period was subject of the hearing.

Claimant appeared at the hearing with documentary evidence detailing his work injury, medical treatment, and leave of absence during the period of November 20, 2014 through December 1, 2014,  identified in the Notice of Determination as the basis for his ineligibility for unemployment benefits. However, the Referee based the decision on events that allegedly took place on December 2, 2014 through December 8, 2014.

Claimant had no notice that these events could form the basis for denying him unemployment compensation.  Claimant was clearly without notice that he would need to produce witnesses for another time period, given that both Employer and Claimant testified that a coworker was present with Claimant during the events that allegedly took place December 2, 2014 through December 8, 2014 and that he acted as an interpreter for Claimant at work.

Whether or not Claimant would have chosen to call this coworker to offer testimony to dispute Employer’s version of events, due process requires that Claimant must be given the opportunity to do so and to otherwise defend against any allegations that would serve as a basis to deny him unemployment compensation benefits. The lack of proper notice of the grounds for denying him unemployment benefits denied Claimant due process of law. Hanover Concrete Co. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 402 A.2d 720, 721 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1984).

In Sterling v. UCBR, 474 A.2d 389 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1984), it was held that a claimant’s right to due process is violated when a referee issues a decision based on facts that were not addressed by the Department’s Notice of Determination and were instead raised for the first time at a hearing before a referee,

It has long been accepted that the constitutional guarantee of due process of law is equally applicable to administrative proceedings as it is to judicial proceedings. Included in this concept of due process is the requirement that such notice must at the very least contain a sufficient listing and explanation of any charges so that the individual can know against what charges he must defend himself if he can. Thus notice is integrally linked to the right to be heard, for without notice, litigants are ill-equipped to assert their rights and defend against claims.


*An unreported Commonwealth Court case may not be cited binding precedent but can be cited for its persuasive value.  See 210 Pa. Code § 69.414(b) and Pa. R.A.P.  3716

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)