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LLOYD SMITH v. UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD REVIEW COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/17/77)

decided: March 17, 1977.

LLOYD SMITH, APPELLANT
v.
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Lloyd Smith, No. B-131575.

COUNSEL

Mark I. Weinstein, with him Harold J. Funt, for appellant.

Michael Klein, Assistant Attorney General, with him Sydney Reuben, Assistant Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellee.

Judges Kramer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 293]

Lloyd Smith (claimant) was employed as a machine operator by the Pillsbury Company (employer) for a period of approximately 5 1/2 years. On August 29, 1975, he appeared in Domestic Relations Court of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County to report for his failure to make child support payments in the amount of $15.00 per week and explained that he refused to make the payments because he believed that he was being denied proper visitation rights to his child. The court found him in contempt and sentenced him to 90 days in jail, the sentence to begin that day. The claimant promptly notified his employer of his incarceration and requested a leave of absence from his employment for a period of 90 days, which was denied because it was against the employer's policy to grant leaves for such legal problems.

[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 294]

The employer, however, gave the claimant until September 8, 1975 to straighten out his affairs and report to work. At the claimant's insistence, the employer later extended this deadline, but finally, on September 16, 1975, the claimant was discharged.

The claimant applied for benefits under the Unemployment Compensation Law*fn1 (Law) on June 8, 1976, and the Bureau of Employment Security (Bureau) denied benefits, basing its denial on a finding of willful misconduct under Section 402(e) of the Law, 43 P.S. § 802(e). The referee affirmed the denial of benefits on appeal, but modified the Bureau's order so as to indicate that benefits were denied because the claimant was unemployed through his own fault for which reason Section 3 of the Law, 43 P.S. § 752, prohibits benefits. The claimant appealed to the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which, after holding a hearing, affirmed the referee. This appeal followed.

Our scope of review in an unemployment compensation case is limited to questions of law and, absent fraud, to a determination of whether or not findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, leaving questions of credibility to the referee and Board. Owen v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 26 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 278, 363 A.2d 852 (1976). The claimant argues here that the Board committed an error of law in concluding that the claimant had become unemployed through his own fault and that the Board's findings of fact are not supported by substantial evidence.

Section 3 of the Law, 43 P.S. § 752, provides:

Economic insecurity due to unemployment is a serious menace to the ...


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