Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Carol L. Esper, No. B-182126.
Margaret Duffy Lenns, for petitioner.
Charles Hasson, Associate Counsel, with him James Bradley, Associate Counsel, and Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Rogers, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 505]
The claimant, Carol L. Esper, appeals from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) reinstating its prior order to affirm a referee's decision. The referee had denied the claimant benefits pursuant to Section 402(a) of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).*fn1
The claimant was last employed by the Bureau (now Office) of Employment Security (Office) under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) as a full-time clerk-typist at $4.02 per hour until December 7, 1979. As a participant in the CETA program, she was advised at the time of her hiring that the purpose of the program was to place her into
[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 506]
unsubsidized employment and that she was obliged to take job interviews and to accept suitable employment if offered; however, she was not apprised by the Office that a refusal to accept suitable employment constituted grounds for dismissal from the program and barred the payment of further benefits. On November 21, 1979, the claimant was referred by the Office to Fox Industries for possible permanent full-time employment as, according to the referee, an accounting clerk at a $3.20 per-hour rate. She reported to Fox Industries for an interview and was offered and accepted the aforesaid position but sometime before the date that she was to commence working she informed her prospective employer that she was not interested in the position due to her dissatisfaction with the job's duties*fn2 and rate of remuneration. She was subsequently dismissed from the CETA program and was denied further benefits under Section 402(a) of the Law for failing to accept suitable employment. The referee, assuming that the claimant was unemployed, concluded that the proffered work was suitable, and that her refusal of such work was without good cause and therefore evinced a lack of good faith in seeking employment. The Board affirmed without an opinion.
[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 507]
Where, as here, the party with the burden of proof does not prevail before the Board, our scope of review is limited to determining whether or not the constitutional rights of the petitioner have been violated, an error of law has been committed, or competent evidence has been capriciously disregarded. See, e.g., Eichman v. Unemployment Compensation Page 507} Board of Review, 49 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 21, 409 A.2d 1389 (1980). The claimant contends that she was not unemployed at the time of her refusal of the Fox Industries job and therefore was not within the ambit of Section 402(a) of the Law, or, in the alternative, that the proffered work was not suitable. The respondents, however, counter that the claimant was unemployed and failed to meet her burden of demonstrating good cause for her refusal of the job offer.
We recognize that the dispositive issue in this matter is one of first impression before this court: namely, whether or not the claimant, as a full-time CETA participant for approximately one year, is considered to be "unemployed" at the time of her refusal of the proffered ...