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NICHOLAS CONSTAS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/26/79)

decided: September 26, 1979.

NICHOLAS CONSTAS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in in case of In Re: Claim of Nicholas Constas, No. B-144760-B.

COUNSEL

Nicholas Constas, petitioner, for himself.

Elsa Newman, Assistant Attorney General, with her Richard Wagner, Assistant Attorney General, Chief Counsel, and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Blatt and DiSalle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge DiSalle.

Author: Disalle

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 203]

Nicholas Constas (Claimant) appeals the decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirming a referee's denial of unemployment compensation benefits by reason of a determination that Claimant was not "unemployed" within the meaning of Section 4(u) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law), Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. § 753(u).*fn1

Prior to November 4, 1976, Claimant was employed as a branch manager of Sarah Coventry, Inc. On that date, he was reclassified a unit director. As a unit director, Claimant received less salary and benefits (his income remaining largely dependent on

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 204]

    sales commissions) and he was required to work a minimum of fifteen hours per week. However, Claimant could work as many hours as he wished beyond the fifteen hours required, his remuneration being determined as a function of sales.

On January 23, 1977, Claimant applied for benefits citing as evidence of his unemployed status the part-time nature of his job and his reduced earnings. On February 10, the Bureau of Employment Security denied benefits concluding that Claimant was self-employed. A referee affirmed the Bureau's denial of benefits, but did so on the basis of his conclusion that Claimant was not unemployed within the meaning of Section 4(u). When the Board affirmed the referee's decision, it did so on the basis of its conclusion that Claimant was self-employed. Following a further hearing of the matter, the Board issued its final decision denying benefits. While the Board agreed that Claimant was an employe within the meaning of the Act, the Board nevertheless believed him not to be unemployed. Specifically, the Board found that Claimant could work as many hours per week as he wished, and that he could presumably raise his sales commissions thereby. The Board then concluded that Claimant was, for all intents and purposes, employed full-time within the meaning of the law.

Citing Sproul v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 14 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 442, 322 A.2d 765 (1974), Claimant argues that the Board erred in denying him benefits without first considering the suitability of the unit director position to which Claimant had been relegated by his employer. Reliance on Sproul is clearly misplaced. In that case a claimant's job had been phased out and he was offered another lower paying job. In refusing this new position, the claimant argued that he was not rejecting

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 205]

    suitable work but rather voluntarily terminating his employment for a necessitous and compelling cause, namely the unsuitability of the new position. In remanding that case to the Board, the Court reasoned that it was incumbent upon the Board to ...


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