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LILLIAN L. ROWLES v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/13/81)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: February 13, 1981.

LILLIAN L. ROWLES, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT

Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Lillian L. Rowles, No. B-173249.

COUNSEL

R. Denning Gearhart, for petitioner.

Karen Durkin, Assistant Attorney General, with her James K. Bradley, Assistant Attorney General, Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel, and Harvey Bartle, III, Acting Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Mencer, Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 614]

Lillian L. Rowles (Claimant) appeals here from a decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) dated June 15, 1979, that denied her unemployment compensation benefits under Section 402(b)(1) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).*fn1

The Claimant was employed by Samuel Lansberry, Inc. (Employer) as a secretary-bookkeeper-receptionist and was paid on an hourly basis. She terminated her employment on February 22, 1979. She sought reemployment with the Employer a week later but

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 615]

    was denied. The Claimant applied to the Bureau (now Office) of Employment Security (Office) for unemployment compensation benefits alleging that she had cause of a necessitous and compelling nature for terminating her employment. Benefits were denied and the Claimant appealed. After a hearing the referee affirmed the Office's decision. On appeal the Board affirmed the referee's decision. Claimant then appealed to this Court.

The Claimant alleges that she had a necessitous and compelling reason to terminate because the Employer had unjustly accused her of dishonesty. She further alleges that the Board's finding of fact that she left because she was not being paid on a salary basis and was not receiving sick and personal days is not supported by substantial evidence.

The Claimant has the burden of proof to establish she terminated her employment for a necessitous and compelling reason. Owen v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 26 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 278, 363 A.2d 852 (1976). Where, as here, the party with the burden of proof has not prevailed before the Board our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether the Board's findings of fact can be sustained without a capricious disregard of competent evidence. Houff Transfer, Inc. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 40 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 238, 397 A.2d 42 (1979). Absent a capricious disregard of competent evidence, the Board's findings of fact are binding on this Court if the findings are consistent with each other and the conclusions of law. The legal conclusions drawn by the Board from those findings of fact remain, of course, subject to judicial review. McNeil v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, Pa. Commonwealth Ct. , 414 A.2d 727 (1980).

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 616]

At the hearing, the Claimant testified that she had gone to her Employer's office to request vacation leave and, as she had on other occasions, that she be placed on salary instead of being paid by the hour. She further testified that in rejecting her salary request he unjustly accused her of dishonesty in the completion of her time cards.*fn2 The Claimant explained to the referee that she occasionally had what she felt were business related errands after work and that on those occasions she left 15 minutes prior to the time she entered on her time card.*fn3

Our review of the record discloses that after that meeting the Claimant testified:

I went to my desk, and I sat there and I thought that there was another instance of being refused being put on salary and I told him I felt that I had the right to have my wages guaranteed as much as the men or if I'm sick, or at least some sick days. I had been sick a few days recently before that occurred and I went to my desk and I just thought about it, and I thought I'm not going to stay here and have him accuse me of being dishonest when I'm not, and so I told him that I was leaving.

The record further shows that the Claimant alleged the Employer refused to rehire her because she would always want to be put on salary and that after his refusal the Claimant said "I wouldn't come back unless I was put on salary or at least allowed some sick days." The Employer did not appear for the hearing. No evidence, therefore, was presented to refute any of the Claimant's allegations.

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 617]

"Questions of credibility and evidentiary weight are properly left to . . . [The Board] which is free to reject even uncontradicted testimony." Caterina v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 43 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 19, 21, 401 A.2d 852, 853 (1979). In performing its function the Board found that:

The claimant did not voluntarily terminate her employment because of her contention of being accused of dishonesty but resigned because she was not being paid on a salary basis and was not receiving sick and personal days.

Unjust accusations of dishonesty may constitute a necessitous and compelling reason for a claimant to terminate employment, Arufo v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 37 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 555, 391 A.2d 43 (1978).*fn4 We need not reach this issue or even discuss whether the accusations were unjust in the instant case, however, since the Board found from substantial evidence that the Claimant resigned because of dissatisfaction with her wages and benefits. It is well settled that mere dissatisfaction with wages is not cause of a necessitous and compelling nature for voluntary termination of employment. Snyder v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 50 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 227, 421 A.2d 530 (1980).

Our review of the record convinces us that the Board did not capriciously disregard the Claimant's allegations of unjust accusations. Therefore, we affirm the Board's decision.

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 618]

Order

And Now, this 13th day of February, 1981, the decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review No. B-173 249, dated June 15, 1979, denying benefits to Lillian L. Rowles is affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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