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LORRAINE LAPHAM v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/13/87)

decided: January 13, 1987.

LORRAINE LAPHAM, 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 Lorraine Lapham, No. B-238302.

COUNSEL

Robert Senville, for petitioner.

James K. Bradley, Associate Counsel, with him, Paul E. Baker, Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Doyle and Barry, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish.

Author: Kalish

[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 145]

Lorraine Lapham (claimant) petitions for review of an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which reversed a referee's decision granting her employment compensation benefits. We reverse the Board.

The claimant was employed as a program monitor by the Berks County Employment and Training Office. She suffered from allergic bronchitis due to exposure to cigarette smoke in the work area. She resigned her position and was denied unemployment compensation benefits by the Board because she failed to meet the burden of showing a necessitous and compelling cause for her termination.

The question raised in this appeal is whether the claimant left her employment under circumstances which would render her ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits under section 402(b)(1) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law), Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. ยง 802(b)(1). That section provides in pertinent part:

An employee shall be ineligible for compensation for any week --

(b) In which his unemployment is due to voluntarily leaving work without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. . . .

[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 146]

Provided, That a voluntary leaving work because of a disability if the employer is able to provide other suitable work, shall be deemed not a cause of necessitous and compelling nature. . . .

This has been interpreted to mean that when terminating employment for health reasons, the claimant must show that she explained to her employer her medical condition and her inability to perform regularly assigned duties, and submitted medical evidence of her condition. She need do no more. This then shifts the burden to the employer to offer a suitable alternative in the form of a reasonable accommodation for work which is not inimical to her health. Since the employee must show a good faith effort to maintain the employment relationship, if such an opportunity was proffered to the claimant and she declined to avail herself of it, a finding of ineligibility under section 402(b)(1) of the Law would be appropriate. Genetin ...


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