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Big Mountain Imaging v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review

April 30, 2012

BIG MOUNTAIN IMAGING, PETITIONER
v.
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert Simpson, Judge

Submitted: March 23, 2012

BEFORE: HONORABLE RENEE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge

HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge

OPINION BY JUDGE SIMPSON

Big Mountain Imaging (Employer) petitions for review from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) that reversed a referee's decision, and determined Todd J. Eisenhardt (Claimant) was eligible for ongoing benefits under Section 402(a) (refusal of suitable work) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).*fn1 Specifically, Employer challenges the Board's determination that Claimant remained eligible for benefits after rejecting offered work on the ground that Employer conditioned the offer on Claimant withdrawing his underlying claim for unemployment benefits. Employer further asserts the offered position was suitable, and that Claimant lacked good cause to reject it. Upon review, we affirm.

Claimant worked for Employer for approximately five years. Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 7a.*fn2 In February 2011, Claimant struck one of Employer's machines in frustration causing significant damage. Id. As a result, Employer suspended Claimant for the rest of that week. Id.

Instead of returning to work the following Monday, Claimant accompanied his girlfriend to an unexpected doctor's appointment, and informed Employer he would be absent for personal reasons. Id. Unsatisfied, Employer instructed Claimant to report to work. Id. Claimant violated Employer's directive, and Employer terminated Claimant's employment. Thereafter, Claimant applied for benefits, which were initially denied. Claimant appealed, and a hearing was scheduled.

Prior to the referee's hearing, Employer offered to rehire Claimant to his pre-termination position at the same rate of pay. As conditions of this job offer, Employer required Claimant pass a drug test, and withdraw his unemployment compensation claim to, in effect, reimburse Employer for the damage he caused to its machine. Claimant requested time to consider the offer, which Employer granted, and the hearing ensued. After the hearing, the referee determined Claimant had good cause for his absence, and was entitled to benefits.

Subsequently, Claimant declined Employer's pending job offer. In response, Employer initiated proceedings, which ultimately gave rise to this appeal, to terminate Claimant's benefits pursuant to Section 402(a) of the Law. Thereafter, a second hearing ensued before a referee.

At the second hearing, Employer presented the testimony of one witness, and Claimant, representing himself, testified on his own behalf. After the hearing, the referee determined Employer's offer to reinstate Claimant to his pre-termination job was an offer of suitable work. As to the conditions of the offer, the referee concluded they were open for negotiation, and thus, their imposition did not justify Claimant's refusal. Therefore, the referee determined Claimant was not eligible for ongoing benefits. Claimant appealed.

The Board made the following findings:

1. For the purposes of this decision, [C]laimant was previously separated from [E]mployer due to reasons which are not at issue in this current appeal.

2. [E]mployer offered [C]laimant his prior position with ...


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