Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Lillian Zduniak, No. B-200328.
Simon J. Denenberg, Abramson & Denenberg, P.C., for petitioners.
Charles G. Hasson, Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, with him Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 80 Pa. Commw. Page 179]
Drs. Ronald F. Meltzer and Robert A. Weisberg (Petitioners) have appealed from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which granted benefits to Lillian Zduniak (Claimant). The Board concluded that Claimant had demonstrated cause of a necessitous and compelling nature justifying her voluntary termination of employment.*fn1
Claimant was employed by Petitioners as a medical assistant from January, 1978 through June 6, 1981, the effective date of her resignation. In her letter of resignation to Petitioners, Claimant cited a reduction in work hours as the sole reason for her termination. Claimant subsequently filed an application for unemployment compensation benefits and noted on her Summary of Interview form that she also quit because she had been harassed and belittled by one of Petitioners in front of a co-worker and patient. The Office of Employment Security (Office) denied benefits, finding that Claimant was merely dissatisfied with her working conditions. On appeal, a referee reversed the Office on the basis of his finding that Claimant was subjected to undue criticism and harassment. Petitioners appealed to the Board, which affirmed. Neither the referee nor the Board mentioned the Claimant's reduction in work hours as a reason for her resignation or as justifiable cause for the resignation.
On appeal to this Court, Petitioners argue that 1) Claimant was not subjected to undue criticism and harassment or 2) if the decision is to rest on the harassment allegation, then Petitioners are entitled to a remand hearing since they had no notice prior to the
[ 80 Pa. Commw. Page 180]
referee's hearing that Claimant would contend she had been harassed during her employment. Since we conclude that Claimant's allegations of harassment, even if true, do not constitute cause of a necessitous or compelling nature justifying her resignation, we need not address the second issue presented above.
The Board made only three fact findings in this case. The third and crucial finding was as follows:
3. The claimant was belittled in front of patients and co-workers, and when she attempted to discuss the situation, she was told that she would not be discharged, and she would have to leave voluntarily if not satisfied with her working conditions.
The record is clear, however, that the alleged harassment "in front of patients and co-workers" was, in fact, an isolated incident which occurred in March, 1981, three months prior to Claimant's resignation in June, and involved only one patient and one co-worker.*fn2 The only other episode testified to by Claimant involved a private meeting ...