Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Thomas J. Madigan, No. B-154828.
Thomas J. Madigan, petitioner, for himself.
Charles G. Hasson, Assistant Attorney General, with him Edward G. Biester, Jr., Acting Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 499]
This case involves the entitlement of Thomas J. Madigan to unemployment compensation benefits for the compensable weeks ending October 2, 1976 through January 1, 1977. We are impelled by the circumstances of this case to reverse the decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review that Mr. Madigan was ineligible for benefits for the period in question by reason of his failure to report weekly at the Bureau of Employment Security office. Section 401(b) of the Unemployment Compensation Law, Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess. P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. § 801(b), indeed makes it a requirement that an applicant continue to report at his employment office; we hasten to point out, however, that the same provision of statute provides that this requirement may be waived in situations where compliance would be oppressive. This is such a situation.
Mr. Madigan, a supervisor of the Port Authority Transit of Pittsburgh, was involuntarily retired because he had attained the age of 65 years. He filed an application for unemployment compensation benefits in July, 1976, and beginning in August 1976 collected benefits based on a favorable determination of his eligibility. In the first days of September 1976 Madigan was called in for an interview by an unemployment claims examiner who told him that the compensation authorities had decided that he was not eligible for compensation, that he would receive no more benefits, that he would be required to return the compensation he had already received and that the Bureau would be in communication with him concerning repayment. Madigan expressed concern, especially about reimbursement because he had bought and paid for storm windows with the money.
Next, Mr. Madigan received a written notice from the Bureau dated September 9, 1976 which stated that
[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 500]
an earlier written decision declaring him eligible was vacated and that benefits were disapproved. This notice told him that he might appeal the determination within 15 days. Madigan did not file an appeal. He next received in the mail a notice dated September 24, 1976 reading as follows:
The decision dated 9-9-76 will not be finalized until further investigation is completed. A new decision will be issued at that time.
Madigan interpreted this notice as referring to his obligation to return the money he had received during the weeks of his supposed eligibility. He failed to report to the Bureau office weekly after September 9, 1976 because he had been declared ineligible.
The Bureau failed to send Madigan any "finalization" of the September 9, 1976 notice or any new decision as promised in the notice of September 24, 1976. In January, 1977 Madigan met another former employee of the Port Authority Transit who had been separated from his job in circumstances identical to Madigan's. The friend told Madigan that he, the friend, had been declared eligible for compensation and that he was receiving benefits. Madigan thereupon reported back to the Bureau which declared him to be, and to have been, eligible for compensation from the time of his retirement. The Bureau decided, however, that Madigan could not have benefits for or after the week ending September 11, 1976 and until the week ending January 1, 1977 by reason of his failure to report. The Board of Review declared him eligible for the weeks ending September 11, 18 and 25, 1976 but not thereafter until January 1, 1977. ...