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JOHN J. BEATTIE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/21/85)

decided: October 21, 1985.

JOHN J. BEATTIE, 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 John J. Beattie, No. B-216036.

COUNSEL

Andrew F. Erba, with him, Terry L. Fromson, for petitioner.

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

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

Author: Colins

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 325]

John J. Beattie (claimant) appeals from the decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board), which denied him unemployment compensation benefits on the grounds that he voluntarily quit his job without necessitous and compelling cause pursuant to the provisions of Section 402(b) of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).*fn1 The issue for review is whether the claimant had necessitous and compelling reasons to terminate his employment as a matter of law.

The claimant had been employed as a psychiatric assistant by Albert Einstein Medical Center (employer), his last day of work being May 14, 1982. Immediately

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 326]

    prior to termination, claimant was absent from work on an approved medical leave of absence for drug and alcohol abuse. Upon the claimant's return, he requested a transfer from his present position because alleged drug and alcohol abuse by his immediate co-workers was not conducive to his recovery. The patient care coordinator, from whom the claimant requested this transfer, informed him that she had no power to effect the transfer, and referred him to the Personnel Director who would have knowledge of different positions available. The claimant never availed himself of this opportunity. He also refused an additional leave of absence, and voluntarily quit his position, alleging a lack of cooperation from the employer in dealing with his medical needs.

Where the party with the burden of proof in an unemployment compensation case does not prevail before the Board, our scope of review is limited to determining whether or not the findings of fact are consistent with each other and with conclusions of law and can be sustained without a capricious disregard of competent evidence. Fetterman v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 78 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 233, 467 A.2d 402 (1983). Whether or not a voluntary termination of employment was for cause of a necessitous and compelling nature is a legal conclusion, always subject to appellate review. Eduardo v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 61 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 424, 434 A.2d 215 (1981).

When a claimant voluntarily terminates employment, he has the burden of proof of showing necessitous and compelling reasons for his action. Kernisky v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 10 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 199, 309 A.2d 181 (1973). In cases where a claimant terminates employment for medical reasons, the claimant may meet his burden by showing that at the time of termination adequate

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 327]

    health reasons existed to justify termination and that he communicated his medical problem and inability to perform his regular duties to his employer. Genetin v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 499 Pa. 125, 451 A.2d 1353 (1982). The claimant in this case testified that he had suffered from drug and alcohol dependency. When he completed his detoxification program, and returned to work, he believed that he was being pressured by co-workers to resume his drug habits. The claimant became depressed and suicidal. The claimant during this period of time was seeing a psychiatrist, and apparently his emotional difficulties were detrimentally affecting his mental health. The claimant's testimony in this regard is certainly competent to show that adequate health reasons existed to justify his termination. Steffy v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 499 Pa. 367, 453 A.2d 591 (1982). Emotional and psychological stress constitute adequate health reasons for termination of one's employment. Fetterman v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 78 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 233, 467 A.2d 402 ...


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