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BARBARA J. STEVENS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/29/84)

decided: March 29, 1984.

BARBARA J. STEVENS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Barbara J. Stevens, B-183195-B.

COUNSEL

James T. Rague, Spencer, Gleason & Hebe, for petitioner.

John T. Kupchinsky, Associate Counsel, with him Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Williams, Jr., Doyle and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Williams

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 240]

Barbara J. Stevens (claimant) appeals an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, which denied her benefits pursuant to Section 402(b) of the Unemployment Compensation Law*fn1 on the basis that she voluntarily left work without cause of necessitous and compelling nature.

The claimant does not challenge the Board's factual findings, which reflect the following scenario: Until she quit her job on August 24, 1979, the claimant was employed for five years as a machine operator, earning approximately $5.00 per hour. She lived in Williamsport with her two children. In April of 1979, her ex-husband returned to Williamsport from Colorado, where he was born and where he moved after the couple divorced in or about 1974. Upon his return to Williamsport, he resumed residence with the claimant. On June 2, 1979, the couple were remarried.

From April through early August of 1979, the claimant's husband was unable to secure employment in the Williamsport area. He, therefore, returned to Colorado, where he secured employment which paid $11.77 per hour. Subsequently, on August 24, 1979, the claimant voluntarily terminated her employment in order to move to Colorado to be with her husband. Despite her relocation, the marriage foundered, and the couple separated again. On September 16, 1979,

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 241]

    the claimant applied for benefits. The claimant contends that these findings satisfy her burden of showing that her voluntary termination was due to reasons which were necessitous and compelling. We agree.

Domestic circumstances as a basis for quitting one's job has enjoyed varying degrees of acceptance under the Law. In 1953, Section 402(b) of the Law was amended to exclude marital, filial and domestic reasons as good cause for quitting.*fn2 Two years later, the legislature repealed the exception and substituted language which was construed by our Supreme Court as restoring marital, filial and domestic circumstances and obligations to the category of reasons which might qualify a claimant for benefits.*fn3 See Savage v. Unemployment Compensation Board, 401 Pa. 501, 165 A.2d 374 (1960). In 1959, Section 402(b) was amended again to make a claimant ineligible for compensation for any week:

Our Supreme Court, in Richards v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 491 Pa. 162, 420 A.2d 391 (1980), held that, under this section, quitting a job in order to join a wife or husband in another location was only disqualifying if that was the primary reason for leaving; if other factors, such as economic necessity, or commuting ...


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