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LOUISE A. SCHACHTE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (11/29/84)

decided: November 29, 1984.

LOUISE A. SCHACHTE, 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 Louise A. Schachte, No. B-222185.

COUNSEL

Albert C. Ondrey, for petitioner.

Richard F. Faux, Associate Counsel, with him, Charles Hasson, Deputy Chief Counsel, for respondent.

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

Author: Williams

[ 86 Pa. Commw. Page 269]

Louise A. Schachte (claimant) has appealed from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) denying her benefits. The Board concluded that she had quit her previous job without cause of a "necessitous and compelling" nature, and that, consequently, she was ineligible for benefits by force of Section 402(b) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).*fn1

Louise Schachte last worked as a horse groom for Justadun Farms (Justadun), having been hired on July 1, 1982. At the time Justadun hired the claimant it also hired her husband as a groom. Each of them was to be paid a gross salary of $185 per week. The Schachtes resided forty miles from their place of employment; consequently, they had to travel eighty miles a day to get to and from work. That trip they made together in a truck they owned.

On May 9, 1983, the claimant's husband was discharged by Justadun, but under circumstances that did not disqualify him from receiving unemployment benefits. On May 13, 1983, Mrs. Schachte voluntarily terminated her employment. Soon thereafter she applied for unemployment benefits, alleging in her application that she had quit her job at Justadun because the expenses of daily travel, to and from work, were too great for her salary alone.

Mrs. Schachte's application for benefits was denied by the Office of Employment Security, based on its determination that she had voluntarily left her job without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. That determination, however, was reversed by a referee. The referee found that Justadun had hired the

[ 86 Pa. Commw. Page 270]

Schachtes "as a team," and that the discharge of the husband had the effect of breaching the contract of employment under which the claimant herself worked. According to the referee, those facts alone were enough to give Mrs. Schachte valid grounds for quitting. As a further basis for this decision, the referee found that the claimant, without her husband joining her in the trip to and from work, could not bear the expenses of that trip on her salary.

In the proceedings before the referee, the claimant and her husband both appeared as witnesses; however, the only testimony of any relevance came from the claimant. The employer did not appear at all. In the course of her testimony, Mrs. Schachte stated that she and her husband had been hired "as a team" to groom horses. That statement appears to be the sole basis for the referee's finding in that regard.

According to Mrs. Schachte, her net income, after tax deductions, was $150 a week. She submitted to the referee a list of various expenses which, when totaled, almost equaled her annual salary at Justadun. The referee, by some accounting method that is not clear, determined that if the claimant had the additional expense of traveling to and from work alone, she would be left with about $100 a month from her salary. It appears, however, that the calculations of both the claimant and the referee included expenses which are of a personal or household nature, and are not elements in the expense of traveling between home and ...


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