Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Vincent P. Wychunas, No. B-187777.
James D. Watt, Jr., for petitioner.
Karen Durkin, Associate Counsel, with her Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Blatt and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
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This is an appeal by Vincent P. Wychunas (Claimant) from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which affirmed the decision of a referee to deny unemployment compensation benefits pursuant to Section 402(b)(1) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).*fn1
Claimant was last employed by the M.S.W. Coal Company (Employer) as a mine laborer. On February 27, 1980, Claimant's final day of work, Claimant voluntarily terminated his job without advising the Employer of either his intent to terminate or the cause for termination. Two weeks later, when he was contacted by the Employer, Claimant informed the Employer that he did not intend to return to work. Subsequently, on May 4, 1980, Claimant filed an application for unemployment compensation benefits. Claimant contended that either a disabling condition to his elbow or alleged safety hazards in the mine provided a cause of necessitous and compelling nature for terminating
[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 137]
his employment. Following a hearing, however, the referee determined, and the Board agreed, that Claimant's voluntary termination was without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature thereby rendering him ineligible for benefits pursuant to Section 402(b)(1) of the Law. Before this Court, Claimant argues that his voluntary termination for health and safety reasons constitutes a cause of necessitous and compelling nature.
Under Section 402(b)(1) of the Law, an employee is ineligible for unemployment compensation for any week "[i]n which his unemployment is due to voluntarily leaving work without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. . . ." An unemployment compensation claimant who has voluntarily terminated his employment has the burden of establishing that the termination resulted from cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. Alexander v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 67 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 224, 446 A.2d 991 (1982). Whether a claimant has such a cause is a legal conclusion subject to appellate review. Adamski v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 64 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 639, 441 A.2d 502 (1982).
A health problem may constitute a necessitous and compelling reason for the voluntary termination of employment. Baldassano v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 34 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 457, 383 A.2d 988 (1978). To qualify for unemployment compensation benefits, however, a claimant must prove, by competent evidence,*fn2 that a problem, sufficient to justify termination, existed at the time of termination and that he informed the employer of the
[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 138]
problem at that time.*fn3 Deiss v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 475 Pa. 547, 381 A.2d 132 (1977). Although the record contains testimony regarding an alleged health problem,*fn4 the Board made the following ...