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J.C. PENNEY CO. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/09/83)

decided: March 9, 1983.

J.C. PENNEY CO., INC., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeals from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claims of Christine Woods, No. B-168755-C, No. B-150639 and No. B-168755-B.

COUNSEL

Albert J. Tomalis, Jr., Keefer, Wood, Allen & Rahal, for petitioner.

William J. Kennedy, with him James K. 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 Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 446]

J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (Penney) appeals several orders of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) granting benefits to 82 former employees; the court has consolidated these cases for appeal. The board upheld the referee's determination that the claimants had voluntarily quit their jobs with Penney for necessitous and compelling reason and were, therefore, eligible for benefits under section 402(b)(1) of the Unemployment Compensation Law, Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. ยง 802(b)(1).

In June, 1977, Penney moved the location of the office in which all claimants formerly worked from downtown Philadelphia to Voorhees, New Jersey, a distance of 12 miles. Penney offered each of the claimants continued employment at the new site, but did not provide a pay increase to offset additional travel expenses. The parties have stipulated that all the claimants lived in central Philadelphia or in nearby suburbs, and that commuting from center city Philadelphia to the new office on the available public transit would require a 20-25 minute trip each way and an additional cost of $12 per week. The parties have selected the case of claimant Christine Woods as typical for purposes of this appeal.

The Office of Employment Security awarded benefits to Woods on July 11, 1977, finding she had voluntarily quit with good cause. On October 4, 1977, the referee, after hearing, made the following findings of fact:

(1) The claimant was last employed by J.C. Penney Co. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a

[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 447]

    clerk for approximately six months at the final rate of $3.07 per hour. Her last day of work was June 10, 1977.

(2) After the claimant's last day of work, the company moved its base of operation from 625 Walnut Street, center city Philadelphia, to No. 4 Echelon Plaza, Voorhees, New Jersey, a distance of approximately 16 miles.*fn1

(3) The claimant was offered continued employment at the new site but declined this offer because of the excessive distance which would have required her to travel 32 additional ...


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