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COUNTY FAYETTE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/31/84)

decided: July 31, 1984.

COUNTY OF FAYETTE, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT. JOAN L. SNYDER, PETITIONER V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeals from the Orders of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in cases of In re: Claim of Richard A. Hoch, No. B-199273, and Claim of Joan L. Snyder, No. B-221053.

COUNSEL

Philip T. Warman, County Solicitor, with him, Pamela J. Bailey, for petitioner, County of Fayette.

Wallace C. Worth, Jr., Worth Law Offices, P.C., for petitioner, Joan L. Snyder.

Daniel R. Schuckers, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Allen G. Warshaw, David H. Allshouse and Charles Hasson, Deputy Attorneys General, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondent.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Williams, Jr., Craig, MacPhail, Doyle, Barry and Colins. Judges Rogers, Palladino and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Craig

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 262]

These two consolidated appeals address chiefly the question of whether court-appointed employes who resign or are discharged for seeking public office have good cause for their conduct, thereby entitling them to unemployment compensation benefits. We present each case's factual and procedural history separately, followed by our resolution of the questions of law.

No. 2481 C.D. 1981

The County of Fayette appeals from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review which affirmed a referee's decision granting benefits to Richard A. Hoch.

After appointment by the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County, Hoch had served as the county's assistant probation officer for approximately five years. On March 6, 1981, Hoch filed a nominating petition for the elective office of district justice. On March 10, 1981 the common pleas court notified him that directives of the Court Administrator prohibited him, as a court-appointed employe, from seeking political office, and offered him the choice of resigning or withdrawing from the race. On March 25, 1981, Hoch informed the court that he would do neither. On March 30, 1981, the court discharged him.

Hoch moved to dismiss the county's appeal from the Office of Employment Security's (OES) initial determination granting benefits, on the ground of the county's failure to attend the referee's hearing.*fn1 After

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 263]

    receiving a "cautionary instruction" from the referee, however, Hoch presented his case. Upon finding that Hoch had been terminated for filing the nomination petition and concluding that his action did not constitute wilful misconduct, the referee affirmed the OES's determination. The county has appealed the board's summary affirmance of the referee's decision.*fn2

Undisputed evidence in the record clearly established that, by March 10, 1981, Hoch was aware of the judicial rule proscribing political activity, but that, despite such knowledge, he refused to withdraw his nominating petition or resign. The board candidly admits in its brief that the findings were inaccurate because Hoch was in fact discharged for refusing to withdraw -- and not for filing -- his nomination petition.

No. 2385 C.D. 1983

Joan L. Snyder has appealed a board order which affirmed a referee's decision denying benefits because she voluntarily quit work without necessitous and compelling reason.*fn3

For almost twelve years, Snyder had been employed as a secretary in a district justice's office. In early March 1983, she filed a nominating petition for the elective office of district justice. On March 15, 1983 the magisterial district administrator ...


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