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CAROLEE WESTWOOD v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (11/05/87)

decided: November 5, 1987.

CAROLEE WESTWOOD, 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 Carolee Westwood, No. B-255050.

COUNSEL

Jeffrey L. Greenwald, for petitioner.

Sandra L. Clouser, Assistant Counsel, with her, Clifford F. Blaze, Deputy Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges MacPhail and Barry, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 646]

Carolee Westwood (Claimant) petitions for our review of an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which affirmed a referee's decision to deny benefits to Claimant on the ground that she voluntarily terminated her employment without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. See Section 402(b) 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). We affirm.

[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 647]

Claimant was employed by the Northampton County Children and Youth Service (Employer) as a clerk-typist until April 23, 1986, when she began a medical leave of absence, at her physician's direction, due to allergies which she suffered in her work environment. Claimant initially believed that her absence would last for only four weeks. On May 2, Employer's executive director requested Claimant to alert her physician that she would be requesting additional information regarding the length of Claimant's leave of absence. Claimant so informed her doctor who, on May 29, in response to a subsequent letter from the executive director, requested a three-month leave period on her behalf. Employer ultimately decided to grant a two-month leave of absence ending on June 25, 1986.

Claimant thereafter contacted Employer regarding her return to work, and was informed that she would need a medical release from her doctor prior to her return. On July 3, 1986, Claimant's physician signed the following release:

Carolee Westwood is a patient under my care for bronchial asthma and eczema. Her symptoms are worse in the old Courthouse Annex. She may return to work but not in the same building after July 7th, 1986[.]

On July 8,*fn1 Claimant telephoned the personnel director's office to determine where she should report to work, but was told he was not available. Claimant made no other attempt to contact Employer. By letter dated July 11, Employer informed Claimant that it considered her to have abandoned her position effective July 8 for failing to contact Employer regarding her return to work.

[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 648]

Claimant's subsequent application for unemployment compensation benefits was granted by the Office of Employment Security which concluded that Claimant had cause of a necessitous and compelling nature for terminating her employment based on her physician's advice that Claimant not return to her prior employment location. Employer appealed this determination and, following a hearing, the referee reversed based on his conclusion that "claimant did not act as a reasonably prudent person when she was released to return to work. Instead of contacting her supervisor or the executive director, claimant called the personnel ...


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