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MIRIAM PRYOR v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/05/84)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: April 5, 1984.

MIRIAM PRYOR, 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 Miriam Pryor, No. B-189867-B.

COUNSEL

Gary M. Gusoff, for petitioner.

Michael D. Alsher, Associate Counsel, with him Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.

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

Author: Williams

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 365]

Miriam Pryor (claimant) petitions for review*fn1 of the decision and order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board), dated November 30,

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 3661981]

, denying benefits pursuant to Section 402(b)(1) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Act)*fn2 (voluntary termination without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature) to the extent permitted by Unemployment Compensation Board of Review v. Fabric, 24 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 238, 354 A.2d 905 (1976).*fn3

The facts are not in dispute. The claimant was a part-time mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service (employer) for approximately six months. On May 31, 1980, she voluntarily terminated her employment due to an ovarian ailment which periodically rendered her unable to perform her duties. She was advised by her physician that she would not benefit from a leave of absence. Accordingly, the claimant notified her immediate supervisors of her health problems, and beginning in February, 1980, inquired into the availability of other positions with her employer. Nevertheless, the claimant was unsuccessful in her efforts to secure alternate work.

In a voluntary termination case, a claimant has the burden of proving cause of a necessitous and compelling nature for leaving her employment. Gennaria v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 75 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 354, 461 A.2d 918 (1983). Where, as here, the burdened party has not prevailed before

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 367]

    the Board, we are limited to determining whether the Board's findings are consistent with each other and with its conclusions of law, and whether they can be sustained without a capricious disregard of competent evidence. Berardi v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 73 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 549, 458 A.2d 668 (1983). Medical problems may constitute the requisite cause for voluntarily terminating one's employment. Gennaria.

In support of its denial of benefits, the Board contends only that it should be affirmed because the claimant did not notify any persons in the employer's organization other than her immediate supervisors of her health problems and her resultant inability to perform her job duties.*fn4 The Board's brief acknowledges our Supreme Court's latest refinement of the law in this area in Genetin v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 499 Pa. 125, 451 A.2d 1353 (1982), which eliminated the requirement that a claimant must specifically request a transfer to alternate suitable work with the employer in order to meet her burden of proof. The Board's findings of fact also acknowledge that adequate health reasons existed in this case at the time of termination to justify the claimant's termination and that she notified her immediate supervisors of her health problem. Yet, the Board now makes the unsupported assertion that she must go beyond her immediate supervisors to some higher authority

[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 368]

    within the employer's organization in order to satisfy Genetin.*fn5 We do not agree.

When an employe communicates to an immediate supervisor notice of a medical condition which prevents further job performance the notice requirement of Genetin is satisfied. We believe that not only is such a conclusion consistent with Genetin, it is required by the remedial nature of the Act which mandates a broad and liberal construction. See Schaeffer v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 77 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 634, 467 A.2d 67 (1983). Furthermore, we believe that the interpretation advanced by the Board is inconsistent therewith and that the Board erred in imposing the additional notice requirement on the claimant. Gennaria.

Accordingly, we must reverse the Board and remand to the Board for computation of benefits due the claimant.*fn6

Order

And Now, this 5th day of April, 1984, the decision and order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, dated November 30, 1981, No. B-189867-B, is hereby reversed and the matter is remanded to the Board for computation of benefits due the claimant.

Jurisdiction relinquished.

Disposition

Reversed and remanded.


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