decided: April 21, 1983.
CAROL J. KLEBAN, PETITIONER
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 Carole J. Kleban, No. B-170111-B.
Shelley W. Elovitz, Watzman & Elovitz, for petitioner.
Francine Ostrovsky, Associate Counsel, with her Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Blatt, Craig and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 541]
Carole J. Kleban appeals an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, which affirmed a referee's decision denying her benefits on the basis that she voluntarily left work without a cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. Section 402(b) of the Unemployment Compensation Law.*fn1
The claimant, who had worked as a quality control inspector for RCA Corporation in Mountaintop,
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 542]
Pennsylvania since May 3, 1972, married a union electrician on May 26, 1978. One week before their wedding, her husband, who had been unemployed since January, 1978, obtained work on a construction project in Pittsburgh. On weekends, the claimant's husband commuted nearly 600 miles round-trip to visit the claimant and her minor child. Finally, after three months of this commuting relationship, on August 11, 1978, the claimant terminated her job so that she could join her husband in Pittsburgh. On August 21, 1978, the claimant filed an application for benefits, which the board denied after a lengthy procedural delay.*fn2
Section 402(b) provides, in part, that:
An employee shall be ineligible for compensation for any week . . . (b) In which his unemployment is due to voluntarily leaving work
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 543]
without cause of necessitous and compelling nature. . . .
To be eligible for benefits, a claimant must demonstrate that his or her voluntary quit was for cause of necessitous and compelling reason. Ruckstuhl v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 57 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 302, 426 A.2d 719 (1981).
An earlier version of § 402(b) contained the phrase "good cause" instead of "cause of a necessitous and compelling nature," but our Supreme Court, in Savage Unemployment Compensation Case, 401 Pa. 501, 507, 165 A.2d 374, 377 (1960), indicated that the terms are synonymous.*fn3 Thus, "cause of a necessitous and compelling nature," like "good cause," may arise from personal circumstances and "need not arise out of or be connected with the claimant's employment." Mooney Unemployment Compensation Case, 162 Pa. Superior Ct. 183, 186, 56 A.2d 386, 387 (1948).
In Savage, our Supreme Court said:
"If a worker leaves his employment when he is compelled to do so by necessitous circumstances or because of legal or family obligations, his leaving is voluntary with good cause, and under the act he is entitled to benefits. The pressure of necessity, of legal duty, or family obligations, or other overpowering circumstances and his capitulation to them transform
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 544]
what is ostensibly voluntary unemployment into involuntary unemployment."
Id. at 505, 165 A.2d at 376, citing Sturdevant Unemployment Compensation Case, 158 Pa. Superior Ct. 548, 557, 45 A.2d 898, 903 (1946).
In Savage, our Supreme Court noted that, in 1953, the legislature amended § 402(b) to exclude marital, filial and domestic circumstances as "good cause."*fn4 Two years later, the court noted, the legislature repealed that provision,*fn5 and the amended version read:
An employee shall be ineligible for compensation for any week . . . (b) in which his unemployment is due to voluntarily leaving work without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature.
The Supreme Court interpreted the amendment as follows:
When the Legislature in 1955 removed the specific exception of the 1953 amendment, precluding marital, filial and domestic circumstances and obligations from being good cause within the meaning of the Act, the Legislature intended those obligations again to be good cause, as had been held prior to the 1953 exception.
Id. at 507, 165 A.2d at 377.
In 1959, the legislature again amended § 402(b) to read, in relevant part:
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 545]
An employee shall be ineligible for compensation for any week . . . (b)(1) In which his unemployment is due to voluntarily leaving work without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature . . . (2) In which his or her unemployment is due to leaving work (I) to accompany or to join his or her spouse in a new locality, or (II) because of a marital, filial or other domestic obligation or circumstances. . . .*fn6
In 1980, our Supreme Court, in Richards v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 491 Pa. 162, 420 A.2d 391 (1980), held that, under the 1959 amendment, one demonstrating that the desire to join his or her spouse in a new location was not the "predominant reason," for his or her employment termination, was not automatically ineligible for benefits under § 402(b)(2). The court said that where the motivation for the move "was compelled by economic necessity," the claimant was eligible for benefits. Id. at 168-169, 420 A.2d at 395.
In 1980, the legislature repealed the 1959 amended version of § 402(b).*fn7 The new version, in relevant part quoted earlier, is identical to the 1955 version that the Supreme Court considered in Savage.
Mindful that the Law was intended to be remedial legislation which is to be liberally and broadly construed,*fn8 we are compelled to follow the analysis used
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 546]
by the Supreme Court in Savage, in interpreting the legislature's intent in repealing that portion of § 402(b) which expressly excluded certain family reasons as a cause of necessitous and compelling nature, justifying one's termination from work. Hence we must conclude that the family obligation of joining a relocated spouse can constitute a "necessitous and compelling reason" to leave one's employment.
Merely asserting family obligation, however, will not itself establish a necessitous and compelling reason for terminating employment.*fn9 Our Superior Court (assuming, nearly 40 years ago, that the relocating spouse would be the husband) recognized that:
[J]oining a husband at a distant point may not always constitute good cause for a wife's leaving her employment. Obviously, a wife joining her husband who is enjoying an extended vacation, would not be justified in leaving her employment, unless perchance a serious illness required her attendance upon him. A husband may take a temporary or transient job in another locality without changing the marital domicile; in that case, no other circumstances appearing, a wife would not be justified in leaving her employment. The nature of the circumstances in each individual case, the strength and the effect of the compulsive pressure of external and objective forces must be evaluated, and if they are sufficiently potent, they become relevant and controlling factors.
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 547]
Thus, in order to be eligible for benefits, the claimant here must demonstrate that her resignation from her job to join her husband was a reasonable and good faith decision.
In this case, the board found that:
Due to the nature of his work, claimant's husband is regularly transferred to different job sites. [Board's Finding of Fact No. 7]
Nothing in the record indicates a contrary conclusion,*fn12 and, the claimant, at the referee's hearing,*fn13 acknowledged that, although her husband was working in Pittsburgh, "he was working out of a local from Wilkes-Barre."
Thus, although the claimant's desire to be with her husband is understandable, given the transient nature of his work, we cannot say that the claimant's decision to quit her job was a necessitous one under the tests discussed above.
Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the board.
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 549]
Now, April 21, 1983, the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, decision No. B-170111-B, dated September 10, 1981, is affirmed.