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Chester Community Charter School v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

November 22, 2019

Chester Community Charter School, Petitioner
v.
Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, Respondent

          Submitted: June 3, 2019

          BEFORE: HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, Judge, HONORABLE CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON, Judge, HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, Senior Judge

          OPINION

          ANNE E. COVEY, JUDGE

         Chester Community Charter School (Employer) petitions this Court for review of the Unemployment Compensation (UC) Board of Review's (UCBR) October 10, 2018 order affirming the Referee's decision determining that Deborah Hartzell (Claimant) is not ineligible for UC benefits under Section 402.1(1) of the UC Law (Law).[1] Employer presents two issues for this Court's review: (1) whether the UCBR capriciously and erroneously disregarded the Referee's findings that Claimant had reasonable assurance of continued employment and voluntarily quit her position with Employer; and (2) whether the UCBR erred by failing to consider that Claimant voluntarily quit her position where the record evidence clearly supported that finding. After review, we affirm.

         Employer employed Claimant as a full-time fifth grade teacher from August 27, 2016 through June 9, 2017. In April or May 2017, Employer sent Claimant an employment contract for the 2017-2018 school year. Claimant did not return the contract, and voluntarily quit her employment. Thereafter, Claimant worked for Kelly Educational Staffing (Kelly) from September 11, 2017 through March 23, 2018.[2] Claimant moved to Cumberland County and since Kelly did not provide services in those school districts, Claimant quit her job with Kelly. Claimant subsequently worked for the Substitute Teacher Service (Substitute Teacher) from April 13, 2018 through May 5, 2018 when Substitute Teacher Service laid Claimant off. See Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 11b.[3]

         On June 10, 2018, Claimant applied for UC benefits. On July 2, 2018, the Altoona UC Service Center determined that Claimant was eligible for UC benefits, as she was not disqualified under Section 402.1(1) of the Law for "waiting week ending 6/16/2018." July 2, 2018 Notice of Determination (emphasis added). Employer appealed and a Referee hearing was held on August 9, 2018. On August 10, 2018, the Referee affirmed the UC Service Center's determination. Employer appealed to the UCBR. On October 10, 2018, the UCBR affirmed the Referee's decision. Employer appealed to this Court.[4]

         Background

         Pursuant to Section 401 of the Law,

[c]ompensation shall be payable to any employe who is or becomes unemployed, and who--
(a) Satisfies both of the following requirements:
(1) Has, within his base year, been paid wages for employment as required by [S]ection 404(c) of [the Law[5].
(2) Except as provided in [S]ection 404(a)(3) and (e)(1) and (2) [of the Law[6], not less than thirty-seven per centum (37%) of the employe's total base year wages have been paid in one or more quarters, other than the highest quarter in such employe's base year.

43 P.S. § 801 (emphasis added). Correspondingly, "Section 302 of the Law[7]requires the Department [of Labor & Industry (Department)] to maintain a reserve account for each employer. 43 P.S. § 782. The employer's account is then charged with all [UC] paid to each individual who received base year wages from that employer. 43 P.S. § 782(a)." Ruffner v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 172 A.3d 91, 96 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2017) (emphasis added). Each employer is charged in the proportion that such wages bear to the individual's total wages from all of his base year employers. See 43 P.S. § 782(a)(3).

[U]nder Section 501 of the Law, [8] when a claim is filed, the following is to occur:
• [An e]mployer is to receive notice that a [UC] claim is filed, and if it opposes the grant of benefits, employer should provide information within 15 days as to why benefits should not be granted.
If an employer does not provide information within 15 days giving reasons why the claim should not be granted, the following is to occur:
• If the claim is facially valid, then benefits can be granted without a notice of determination being issued;
• If the claim is not facially valid and denied, then a notice of determination is issued from which a claimant can take an appeal.
No notice of any determination is required to be given to an employer who has not provided information that the claimant is ineligible.
• If an employer files information after 15 days that claimant should be declared ineligible for benefits, then the employer is entitled to a notice of determination regarding its challenge to claimant's unemployment eligibility.
• The Department has no time limit to make a revision to an eligibility determination based on employer's information that a claimant is not eligible for UC benefits.

Narducci v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 183 A.3d 488, 496 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2018) (emphasis added).

         In the instant case, the Department determined "[C]laimant's base year . . . as beginning January 1, 2017, and ending December 31, 2017."[9] Referee Dec. at 1, Finding of Fact (FOF) 1. Because Claimant received remuneration from Employer during the base year, Employer could potentially be charged with Claimant's UC benefits. Accordingly, the Department notified Employer that Claimant filed a UC claim. Based on the ...


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