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FRANKFORD HOSPITAL v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/11/82)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: May 11, 1982.

FRANKFORD HOSPITAL, 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 Debra Steinberg, No. B-188227.

COUNSEL

Joanne E. Kleiner, with her John P. Quinn, Steinberg, Greenstein, Gorelick & Price, for petitioner.

Charles Hasson, Associate Counsel, with him Paul A. Sneed, Associate Counsel, and Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge Mencer.

Author: Craig

[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 452]

In this unemployment compensation appeal, the Frankford Hospital questions an allowance of benefits by the board, affirming a referee's determination that the claimant*fn1 was eligible for benefits on the basis

[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 453]

    that her voluntary quit was justified by a "cause" which was "necessitous and compelling," according to the terms of Section 402(b)(1) of the Unemployment Compensation Law.*fn2

The referee found that the claimant had worked for the Frankford Hospital-Torresdale Division as a Blood Bank Supervisor for about three years. After a two-day absence from her job, the claimant's supervisor informed her that her pattern of absences and her job performance were unsatisfactory, advising the claimant that she would be demoted, which would result in a reduction in pay. The claimant submitted her resignation on the next regularly scheduled workday, citing, as the reason for resignation, disatisfaction with the demotion which she had received.

In his discussion, the referee "specifically [found] the demotion not warranted," based upon Finding of Fact No. 2 as to absences:

(2) Claimant was absent from her job on May 7, 1980 and May 8, 1980, due to illness and properly reported such absences as to the reason therefor.*fn3

Attentive to our limited scope of review,*fn4 we find that the claimant's testimony, which negates any basis

[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 454]

    for the demotion, constitutes substantial evidence upon which the referee could properly conclude that the demotion was not warranted. Likewise, the referee's decision not to credit the supervisor's comment as to claimant's non-pursuance of an appeal to the hospital's Director of Employee Relations, in view of claimant's denial that she had an opportunity to address "anyone in authority," involves a question of credibility for the referee.

Having accepted the referee's findings, the legal issue raised is whether an unjustified demotion which causes a claimant voluntarily to quit his employment constitutes cause of a "necessitous and compelling nature" to enable that claimant to qualify for unemployment benefits.

In Taylor v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 474 Pa. 351, 358-59, 378 A.2d 829, 832-33 (1977), the Supreme Court stated:

[I]t can be said that "good cause" for voluntarily leaving one's employment (i.e. that cause which is necessitous and compelling) results from circumstances which produce pressure to terminate employment that is both real and substantial, and which would compel a reasonable person under the circumstances to act in the same manner.

[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 455]

Although an employee must accept reasonable task changes, Tucker v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 14 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 262, 264, 319 A.2d 195, 196 (1974), an employment change brought about by an unjust demotion is not reasonable and therefore is distinguishable from situations involving a justified demotion, Unemployment Compensation Page 455} Board of Review v. Tune, 23 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 201, 350 A.2d 876 (1976), or a mere reprimand, Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Ruffel, 18 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 512, 336 A.2d 670 (1975).

Accordingly, the order of the board is affirmed.

Order

Now, May 11, 1982, the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. B-80-1-L-130 dated April 12, 1980, is affirmed.

Amended Order

The order of this court dated May 11, 1982 in the above-captioned matter is amended to read as follows:

Now, May 13, 1982, the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. B-188227 dated September 30, 1980, is affirmed.

This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge Mencer.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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