Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Laverne McNeil, No. B-149429.
Nathaniel C. Nichols, for appellant.
William J. Kennedy, Assistant Attorney General, with him Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 316]
Laverne McNeil (Claimant) has appealed from a decision and order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board), which sustained the referee's decision to deny Claimant benefits. The Board found Claimant ineligible for benefits under Section 402(b)(1) of the Unemployment Compensation Law, Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L.  2897, as amended, 43 P.S. § 802(b)(1), which provides in part that an employee is ineligible for benefits when he leaves work without cause of a necessitous or compelling nature.
Claimant was employed for eighteen months as a para-legal counselor by the Federal Manpower Program of Delaware County (Manpower). He had been assigned to the Community Assistance Project (CAP) to counsel persons who had been incarcerated under the criminal justice system, as well as the families of those persons. An internal dispute developed between the local Manpower office and CAP concerning whether Claimant and another CAP employee were performing their duties satisfactorily and in accordance with Manpower guidelines. The Board found as fact that
[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 317]
the Manpower and CAP officials were particularly in dispute over the propriety of Claimant's organizing demonstrations and participating in picket lines against employers and federal agencies as tactics to aid Claimant's clients. Claimant and CAP perceived these activities as being within Claimant's job description, whereas Manpower did not feel that they were appropriate activities for Claimant's job. Claimant was advised by the director of Manpower that he was dissatisfied with Claimant's work performance.
Prior to any resolution of this conflict, Claimant voluntarily terminated his employment. He testified that he did so "under harassment and discrimination because of race." Continuing employment was available to Claimant had he elected to remain employed. Though in his letter of resignation Claimant charged the local director of Manpower with harassment, racial prejudice, and defamation of character, the Board was unable to find from the evidence that Claimant had substantiated these charges. Under these circumstances, the Board concluded that Claimant had failed to demonstrate a necessitous and compelling reason for voluntarily terminating the employment relationship.
Claimant argues on appeal that his reasons for terminating employment were based on real and substantial pressure, and thus his leaving work was for cause of "a necessitous and compelling nature." Claimant asserts that his decision to resign did stem partly from problems with the local Manpower director concerning Claimant's job performance, but that his decision to quit was more "the result of what any reasonable person would perceive as harassment and prejudice." Claimant argues that his allegations of harassment and prejudice have been substantiated by credible evidence, thus providing the compelling circumstances prompting him to resign.
[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 318]
In support of his contention that he was subjected to real and substantial pressure amounting to harassment and discrimination, Claimant first points to the fact that he was admonished for engaging in conduct which he believed within the scope of his job description. Claimant asserts but has offered no evidence that the local Manpower director callously treated members of minorities, he among them. Claimant further ...