Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Sara Mae Musser, No. B-218693.
John W. Blasko, McQuaide, Blasko, Schwartz, Fleming & Faulkner, Inc., for petitioner.
James N. Bryant, Bryant & Farber, for claimant, Sara Mae Musser.
Judges MacPhail, Doyle and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 417]
Gettig Engineering (Employer) has appealed from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which affirmed a referee's decision granting benefits to Sara Mae Musser (Claimant). We affirm in part, vacate in part and remand for further proceedings.
Claimant was employed for sixteen years as a machine operator by Employer when, on October 18, 1982, she was discharged for excessive absenteeism. The referee's findings, which were adopted in full by the Board, reflect that Claimant was absent from work after September 16, 1982 due to an allergic reaction she experienced to epoxy fumes which were present at her work site. At the time of her discharge, Claimant was still under her physician's care and had not been released to return to work.
Claimant did not apply for unemployment compensation benefits until February 13, 1983. Shortly thereafter, on February 17, Employer offered Claimant a job to begin on February 21, 1983. Claimant refused the offer due to her concern that she would again be exposed to epoxy and because she doubted the sincerity
[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 418]
of Employer's offer in light of her prior discharge.
The referee, following a hearing, concluded that Employer had not met its burden of proving willful misconduct,*fn1 that Claimant had good cause for her refusal of the proffered employment in February, 1983,*fn2 and that she remains able and available for suitable work as long as it does not involve exposure to epoxy.*fn3 The Board affirmed on the basis of the referee's decision.
On appeal to this Court, Employer first argues that Claimant was guilty of willful misconduct justifying her discharge. Although Employer acknowledges that Claimant properly reported her absences on a daily basis until her discharge on October 18, 1982, Employer contends that Claimant failed to provide adequate medical certification of her illness. Testimony for the Employer establishes, however, that Employer had been notified by Claimant's physician prior to her discharge that Claimant's absence resulted from her allergy to the epoxy fumes in Employer's plant. Despite this medical documentation, Claimant was nevertheless discharged. We must agree with the unemployment compensation authorities that Employer failed to meet its burden of proving willful misconduct. It is only when absences are ...