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SAVAGE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION CASE. PITTSBURGH PIPE AND COUPLING COMPANY v. UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD REVIEW. (11/15/60)

November 15, 1960

SAVAGE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION CASE. PITTSBURGH PIPE AND COUPLING COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW.



Appeal, No. 175, March T., 1960, by employer, from decision of Superior Court, April T., 1959, No. 195, affirming decision of Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. B-52563, in re claim of Charles P. Savage. Decision affirmed.

COUNSEL

J. C. Hill, with him Donald M. Birch and William J. Kenney, for appellant.

Marshall J. Seidman, Deputy Attorney General, with him Anne X. Alpern, Attorney General, for Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 401 Pa. Page 502]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

From 1951 to December, 1957, Charles P. Savage was employed as a machine operator at the plant of the Pittsburgh Pipe and Coupling Company in Allison Park (near Pittsburgh). His home was in Hastings 60 miles distant from the plant. In order to avoid

[ 401 Pa. Page 503]

    the burden of a 120-mile round trip between these two points every day, he stayed at the home of his sister in Gibsonia (near Allison Park), paying her $25 a week for room and board. Every weekend he returned to his wife and four children (the oldest being 10 years of age) in Hastings.

On December 19, 1957, Savage now receiving wages amounting approximately to $22 a day, the plant shut down for a two-week period and Savage was directed to return on January 6, 1958, but at laborer's wages at $2 per hour for a four-day week, activity at the plant having slackened. This reduction in pay and workweek (which was in accordance with a labor-management agreement) effected a lowering of Savage's income to about$64 a week.

On January 2, 1958, Savage notified his employer that his wife had suffered a disabling spinal injury and for that reason he was compelled to remain at home to take care of her and the children. His employer recommended that he take a three-month leave of absence. Savage refused to accept this offer and made claim for unemployment compensation. The Bureau of Employment Security found that he was entitled to unemployment compensation benefits. The company appealed to the unemployment compensation referee who reversed the board on the basis that the claimant had not terminated his employment for reasons of a necessitous and compelling nature as specified in Section 402(b) of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law.*fn1 The claimant appealed to the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review which reversed the referee, reinstating compensation. The company appealed to the Superior Court which

[ 401 Pa. Page 504]

    affirmed the award by an equally divided Court. We granted allocatur.

The appellant company does not contest the facts as set out by the Board of Review and as briefly adverted to here. The only question for determination by this Court is whether the facts establish that the claimant was, as a matter of law, ineligible to receive compensation benefits on the basis that he terminated his employment without cause of "a necessitous and compelling nature."

To answer this question it is necessary to pass in review, briefly, the legislative history of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Act. The first enactment of this law in 1936 was silent on the topic of necessitous abandonment of one's job. It contained no exception to the provision that: "An employe shall be ineligible for compensation for any week in which his unemployment ...


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