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GEORGE M. POPELAS v. UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD REVIEW COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/21/75)

decided: March 21, 1975.

GEORGE M. POPELAS, APPELLANT,
v.
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of George M. Popelas, No. B-121796.

COUNSEL

Richard K. Brandt, for appellant.

Daniel R. Schuckers, Assistant Attorney General, with him Sydney Reuben, Assistant Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellee.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 93]

Appellant has been declared ineligible to receive unemployment compensation by the Bureau of Employment Security, by the referee, and by the Board of Review. The ineligibility is declared pursuant to the provisions of Section 401(d) of the Unemployment Compensation Law, Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. ยง 801(d) (Supp. 1974-1975), i.e., he failed to meet the availibility-for-work requirement. We must affirm.

Appellant was a full-time college student in the last semester of his college career. His last employment was

[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 94]

    as a maintenance man -- a job hardly suited to his ability but taken by him because, as he testified: "This is the thing that was getting me through college." Commendable as it no doubt is, not only to society but to his own intelligent self-interest, appellant's primary goal has been to acquire a college education. The record shows beyond question that appellant considered and indeed declared his occupation to be "student at college." Although he could complete the requirements for his college degree by obtaining one credit, he signed up and paid $385.00 for a full-time last semester of 21 credits, requiring his presence at school approximately 48 hours a week. The summary of interview indicates that he was not permitted to change his hours of attendance at college. This alone is the fundamental distinction between this case and Wiley Unemployment Compensation Case, 195 Pa. Superior Ct. 256, 259, 171 A.2d 810, 812 (1961). In Wiley, Judge Woodside, in a concurring opinion, stated:

"I believe that under the Unemployment Compensation statute, this Court must continue to refuse benefits to full-time students who have been 'working their way through college'."

Judge Wright, speaking for the majority, put it another way:

". . . a claimant 'should not be penalized merely because he has the commendable desire, in keeping with the great American tradition, to further his education by attending classes during hours which do not interfere with his job'." Wiley, supra, 195 Pa. Superior Ct. at 259, 171 A.2d at 812.

We have followed these guidelines in all our decisions involving applications for unemployment compensation benefits by applicants who were attending college. See Judge Mencer's recent opinion in Graham v. Unemployment Compensation Board ...


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