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INEZ WASKO v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/27/85)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: February 27, 1985.

INEZ WASKO, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT

Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Inez M. Wasko, No. B-219169.

COUNSEL

Kenneth R. Alford, for petitioner.

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

Judges Rogers and Williams, Jr. and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish. Judge Williams, Jr., dissents. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Kalish

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 17]

Inez Wasko appeals from the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirming the decision of a referee denying her unemployment compensation benefits on the ground that she voluntarily quit work without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature.*fn1 We reverse.

Wasko contends that the Board erred in concluding that she left work without a cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. Although the Board is the ultimate finder of facts, the conclusion of whether a claimant had cause of a necessitous and compelling nature for leaving work is a question of law subject to this Court's review. Willet v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 59 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 500, 429 A.2d 1282 (1981).

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 18]

The referee found and the Board affirmed the following facts, which are not in dispute:

1. The claimant was last employed by Borough of Wheatland for three years and four months as secretary-treasurer at a final annual salary of $9,800.00. Her last day of work was December 31, 1981.

2. Throughout her employment, the claimant had constant problems with the Mayor of Wheatland who interfered with the claimant's performance of her job duties.

3. The Mayor had no business interfering with the claimant's work since she had no control over the claimant nor did she have the authority to discharge the claimant.

4. The claimant reported her problem with the Mayor to the Members of Council who fully supported the claimant.

5. Council Members established a "closed-door policy" which provided that the door to the claimant's office be closed when the Mayor was in residence in Council chambers.

6. Council also adopted a resolution which prohibited the Mayor from interfering with the claimant.

7. Neither the "closed-door policy" nor the resolution prohibiting the Mayor from interfering with the claimant could be enforced and the Mayor continued to interject herself in the claimant's job duties.

8. The President of Council, who was one of the major supporters of the claimant during her battle with the Mayor, lost his bid for re-election in the general election in November of 1981.

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 199]

. Because the claimant felt that without the support of the President of Council, her problems with the Mayor would magnify, she submitted her resignation to Council in December of 1981, which was to be effective December 31, 1981, indicating she was resigning for personal reasons.

10. During the last week of December of 1981, another Council Member, who later was elected President of Council, asked the claimant to reconsider her decision to resign and promised to fully support the claimant in her problems with the Mayor.

11. Despite this reassurance. the claimant refused to rescind her resignation and informed the Council Member she was resigning for personal reasons.

12. Continuing work was available to the claimant had she desired to remain employed.

The Mayor interfered with Wasko's work by demanding that she type all the Mayor's correspondence and perform other secretarial functions which were not part of her duties. The Mayor also demanded that Wasko refer all complaints received by the Council Office to the Mayor, rather than to the President of Council, as she had been instructed to do by Council. The Mayor, throughout Wasko's employment, attempted to cajole Wasko into performing work for her that was not within her assigned duties or was directly counter to her assigned duties.*fn2

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 20]

Mere personality differences between an employee and his or her supervisor do not give rise to cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. Penkola v. Unemployment Page 21} Compensation Board of Review, 32 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 326, 379 A.2d 890 (1977). However, "'good cause' for voluntarily leaving one's employment (i.e. that cause which is necessitous and compelling) results from circumstances which produce pressure to terminate employment that is both real and substantial, and which would compel a reasonable person under the circumstances to act in the same manner." Taylor v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 474 Pa. 351, 358-59, 378 A.2d 829, 831-32 (1977).

In the instant case, the undisputed facts reveal that the Mayor had repeatedly and deliberately interfered

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 22]

    with Wasko's performance of her duties. Moreover, Wasko attempted to remedy the problem by reporting the situation to Council. The Mayor, believing that Council had no authority over her, ignored the resolution and the "closed-door policy" and continued to cajole Wasko into doing the Mayor's work.*fn3 Pressured by the Mayor to answer her and hired by Council to work for it, Wasko's resignation under the circumstances of this case was consistent with ordinary common sense and prudence. Id. The Board thus erred as a matter of law in concluding that Wasko

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 23]

    voluntarily left work without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. Reversed.

Order

The order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, Decision No. B-219169, dated June 23, 1983, is hereby reversed.

Judge Williams, Jr., dissents.

This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge Williams, Jr.

Disposition

Reversed.


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