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BARBARA J. SIMPSON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/04/87)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: March 4, 1987.

BARBARA J. SIMPSON, 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 In Re: Claim of Barbara J. Simpson, No. B-238617.

COUNSEL

James T. Rague, Spencer, Gleason & Hebe, for petitioner.

Clifford F. Blaze, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 316]

A referee's decision denied Barbara J. Simpson benefits for refusing to accept an offer of suitable work without good cause.*fn1 Section 402(a) of the Unemployment Compensation Law.*fn2 The Unemployment Compensation Board of Review agreed.*fn3 Simpson appeals; we reverse.

Simpson, a teacher for one year in the Clearfield Area School District, was permanently furloughed on August 22, 1984. Five days later, the school district offered, and Simpson refused, a part-time tutoring position involving an estimated ten hours of work each week.*fn4 The Board found no just cause for Simpson's refusal.

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 317]

Our scope of review is limited to determining whether an error of law was committed or whether a finding of fact is unsupported by substantial evidence. Estate of McGovern v. State Employees' Retirement Board, 512 Pa. 377, 517 A.2d 523 (1986). In determining eligibility under Section 402(a), this Court must separately consider whether the offered work was suitable and whether the claimant's failure to accept such work was without good cause. Lynch v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 35 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 159, 384 A.2d 1379 (1978).

Simpson contends that the Board erred in concluding that the offer was suitable because the amount of hours and rate of pay were not established and thus no specific offer capable of acceptance was made.*fn5 We agree.

The referee's findings indicate that when the job was offered to Simpson, the working hours were merely estimated and there was no established pay rate.*fn6 This is supported by the testimony of Clythera S. Hornung*fn7 who offered Simpson the position. We hold that Hornung's offer, without definite hours or pay scale, was not "suitable work" commensurate with Simpson's position. Therefore, Simpson was under no obligation to accept it.

Additionally, the record discloses that Simpson was only unemployed for one week when the indefinite position was offered. We hold that her refusal is consistent

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 318]

    with the well-settled standard that a reasonable opportunity must be given an unemployment compensation claimant to locate a position commensurate with her required work skills and salary level. Gonzales v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 17 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 491, 333 A.2d 513 (1975). We hold that the Board erred as a matter of law in concluding that Simpson was offered suitable work and reverse the Board's order denying benefits.

Order

The Unemployment Compensation Board of Review order, No. B-238617 dated March 6, 1985, is reversed.

Disposition

Reversed.


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