Tuesday, March 06, 2018

UC - findings, reasons - both parties absent from hearing

Kremis v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court – March 5, 2018 – unreported memorandum decision*

The court remanded the case for a) further findings of facts and reasons, so that the court could exercise appellate review OR b) order a new hearing, where
            - neither party attended the referee hearing
            - the referee based his decision, for the employer, solely on documents
            - the referee made only two findings of fact – 1) claimant work dates, and 2) that claimant quit his job
            - the referee did not offer any reasons for his finding that claimant quit his job.

From the opinion:

Absence of parties – Neither party appeared at the hearing.  “When that occurs, 34 Pa. Code sec. 101.51 provides:  If any party duly notified of the date, hour and place of a hearing fails to attend a hearing without proper cause, the hearing may be held in his absence. In the absence of all parties, the decision may be based upon the pertinent available records. (Emphasis added.) See also Gadsden v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 479 A.2d 74 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1984) (holding that 34 Pa. Code § 101.51, taken together with Section 502 of the Law,4 allows referees to decide the merits of a UC claim, even in the absence of both parties)

Findings and reasons:   “While 34 Pa. Code § 101.51 provides that in the absence of the parties, the Referee may make a decision based upon the pertinent available records, the Referee is still not excused from making findings and explaining the rationale for the determination. Eckert v. UCBR, 483 A.2d 1059 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1984). Where findings are not made which may be legally determinative of a claimant’s eligibility for unemployment benefits, it is not possible for this Court to perform appellate review. McGoldrick v. UCBR, 526 A.2d 461, 463 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1987). . . . Neither the Referee nor the Board explained why they accepted Employer’s version of events rather than Claimant’s version that he was terminated without just cause.”

*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