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Brown v. Unemployment Compensation Bd. of Review

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

March 19, 2014

Ryan R. Brown, Petitioner
v.
Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, Respondent

Submitted: January 3, 2014.

Appealed from No. B-551092. State Agency: Unemployment Compensation Board of Review.

Mark A. Krochka, New Castle, for petitioner.

Judith M. Gilroy, Assistant Counsel, Harrisburg, for respondent.

BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉ E COHN JUBELIRER, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, Judge. OPINION BY JUDGE COVEY.

OPINION

Page 1003

ANNE E. COVEY, Judge

Ryan R. Brown (Claimant) petitions this Court for review of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review's (UCBR) April 24, 2013 order affirming the Referee's decision that Claimant is not financially eligible for unemployment compensation (UC) benefits. The issue for this Court's review is whether the UCBR erred when it allegedly capriciously disregarded two pay statements Claimant received during his base year and by concluding that Claimant was not entitled to use wages from an alternate base year immediately prior to his worked-related injury in order to qualify for UC benefits. Upon review, we affirm.

Claimant was employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare (Employer) as a full-time youth development aide from September 2008 through January 20, 2010. Claimant worked at Employer's Youth Development Center, which Claimant described as a secure facility where he worked with violent criminal offenders. On January 20, 2010, Claimant sustained a work-related injury while restraining a resident at the facility. Claimant's injury was deemed compensable under the Workers' Compensation (WC) Act[1] (WCA) effective January 21, 2010.

Claimant filed an application for UC benefits with an effective date of October 7, 2012, thereby establishing a base year of July 30, 2011 through June 30, 2012. Claimant had insufficient wages during that base year to qualify for UC benefits and, thus, pursuant to Section 204(b) of the WCA,[2] requested an alternate base year of the four quarters immediately prior to his January 20, 2010 work-related injury. On January 18, 2013, the Erie UC Service Center (Service Center) issued a determination concluding that because a WC Judge (WCJ) ordered on May 23, 2011 that Claimant's WC benefits be suspended/terminated effective July 19, 2010, Claimant's financial ineligibility due to a lack of sufficient wages during the base year beginning July 30, 2011 was not due to a compensable injury. Accordingly, Claimant could not elect an alternate base year.

Claimant appealed from the Service Center's determination and, on March 6, 2013, a Referee hearing was held. Although notified of the hearing date, time and location, Employer did not attend the hearing. During the hearing, Claimant's hearsay objection was sustained to the introduction of the WCJ's May 23, 2011 decision suspending/terminating WC benefits. Claimant introduced into evidence Employer pay statements for July 22, 2011

Page 1004

and August 5, 2011 which identified compensation paid to Claimant as " Act 534/632 Dis Sal Comp." [3] Original Record (O.R.) Item 5. On March 14, 2013, the Referee affirmed the Service Center's determination finding that although Claimant had a compensable work-related injury in January 2010 under the WCA, there was no evidence to establish that Claimant continued to receive WC benefits during his base year. The Referee concluded that Claimant did not establish that his compensable injury affected his base year eligibility for UC benefits and, thus, Claimant could not use an alternate base year to determine his eligibility for UC benefits.

Claimant appealed from the Referee's decision to the UCBR. On April 24, 2013, the UCBR affirmed the Referee's decision, adopting and incorporating her findings, and noting that " [t]he record indicates that the claimant's [WC benefits] w[ere] terminated prior to his base year. As of that time, his lack of wages was no longer due to a compensable ...


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