decided: March 15, 1976.
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
KATHLEEN M. BOOK, APPELLANT
Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Kathleen M. Book, No. B-125351.
James S. Rothstein, with him Alan Linder, for appellant.
Charles G. Hasson, Assistant Attorney General, with him Sydney Reuben, Assistant Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 37]
This is an appeal by Kathleen M. Book (claimant) from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 38]
of Review (Board), dated April 17, 1975, which affirmed a referee's order, dated September 16, 1974, denying claimant unemployment benefits.
The facts of this case are not in dispute. The claimant was last employed by Host Enterprises in Lancaster as an accounting clerk. The Bureau of Employment Security (Bureau) determined that her last day of work was April 26, 1974, at which time she was deemed to have had a separation from employment which qualified her for unemployment compensation benefits. On June 24, 1974, she was referred to an interview for a clerical position with the Hartford Insurance Company (Hartford), which was opening a new office in Lancaster. She was hired to begin work on September 3, 1974 with her hours set at 8:15 A.M. to 5 P.M. She reported to work on that date and completed a day of training in Philadelphia. Upon her return home, however, she discovered that the child-care arrangements she had made for her two children could not be maintained. She then notified Hartford on the same day, September 3, 1974, that she would not be able to continue in employment because she now found it necessary to care for her two small children until 9 A.M. each morning, so that she could not report at 8:15 A.M. as required.
The Bureau denied benefits for the weeks beginning after September 7, 1974 on the basis that the claimant's failure to accept the referral job rendered her ineligible for benefits under Section 402(a) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Act), Act of December 5, 1936, P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. § 802(a).*fn1
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 39]
The claimant appealed and the referee who held a hearing on October 3, 1974 upheld the Bureau's determination and concluded that the claimant was disqualified pursuant to Section 402(a) of the Act. An appeal was then made to the Board which remanded the case for the purpose of scheduling a second hearing to elicit additional testimony for the Board's consideration. Following this hearing on February 6, 1975, the Board affirmed the referee's decision that the claimant was ineligible for benefits under Section 402(a) of the Act but added that the claimant was also disqualified for benefits under Section 401(d) of the Act,*fn2 43 P.S. § 801(d). This appeal followed.
Our scope of review in unemployment compensation cases is limited to a resolution of questions of law and, absent fraud, to a determination of whether the necessary findings of fact are supported by the evidence. Becote v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 18 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 639, 339 A.2d 856 (1975); Dingel v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 14 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 484, 322 A.2d 731 (1974).
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 40]
"'Good cause' and 'suitable work' [i.e. under Section 402(a) of the Act] represent distinct concepts, and in determining eligibility they must be considered separately." Sweeney Unemployment Compensation Case, 177 Pa. Superior Ct. 243, 247, 110 A.2d 843, 846 (1955). "Good cause" relates to reasons which are not connected with employment and are strictly personal to the employee. Barclay White Co. v. Unemployment Compensation Page 40} Board of Review, 356 Pa. 43, 50 A.2d 336 (1947). An employee's reasons to refuse suitable work, however, must be "'real not imaginary, substantial not trifling, reasonable not whimsical, circumstances [which] compel the decision . . . to refuse suitable work.'" Barclay White Co., supra, 356 Pa. at 48, 50 A.2d at 340. In this appeal, it is uncontested that the employment offered to the claimant was suitable work,*fn3 and it is her contention that she refused such suitable work for good cause.
The evidence here supports the Board's finding that the claimant refused employment because of her domestic responsibilities. Such responsibilities, of course, including care of one's children, have been held not to constitute good cause for the refusal of suitable work by an unemployment compensation benefit claimant. Schubauer Unemployment Compensation Case, 197 Pa. Superior Ct. 600,
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 41179]
A.2d 661 (1962); Buchko Unemployment Compensation Case, 196 Pa. Superior Ct. 559, 175 A.2d 914 (1961); Sparano Unemployment Compensation Case, 193 Pa. Superior Ct. 349, 165 A.2d 131 (1960). Having refused suitable work without good cause, therefore, the claimant was properly denied further unemployment compensation benefits.
The Board here added a second, independent ground for the disqualification of the claimant from benefits, finding her also ineligible under Section 401(d) of the Act. The Board stated that "there were few opportunities in the claimant's labor market area" within her restricted working hours. It held, therefore, that she was not attached to the labor force. This appears contrary to our holding in Myers v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 17 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 281, 330 A.2d 886 (1975), in which we said that a claimant need only have a "reasonable opportunity" for securing work in his or her labor market, and that a finding that "few" opportunities existed was not sufficient to support a conclusion that no "reasonable opportunity" to secure employment existed. While, as a result, we would have to reverse this second finding by the Board, we must affirm its first finding which was also the finding of the referee, and hold that benefits in this case were properly denied on the basis of that first finding alone.
We, therefore, issue the following
And, Now, this 15th day of March, 1976, the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review insofar as it denies the claim of Kathleen M. Book pursuant to Section 402(a) of the Unemployment Compensation Law is hereby affirmed.