Determining Whether a Claimant for Unemployment Compensation Has a Compelling Reason to Quit Job on Demotion
What is the Suitable Standard for Establishing Whether a Claimant for Unemployment Compensation Has a Necessitous and Compelling Reason to Quit Job on Demotion ?
In Allegheny Valley School v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 548 Pa. 355, 697 A.2d 243 (1997), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court set forth the appropriate standard for determining whether a claimant has a necessitous and compelling reason for quitting his job after receiving a demotion.
Darrell Callwood (Callwood) worked for Allegheny Valley School (Allegheny) as an assistant house manager for the second shift.
Early in his employment, Callwood's supervisors repeatedly met with him to discuss deficiencies in his job performance.
Approximately eighteen months after he commenced employment, Allegheny offered him a demotion to either house manager aide or developmental care specialist due to his inability to perform his duties.
Callwood refused the demotion, terminated his employment, and applied for unemployment compensation benefits.
The Office of Employment Security found that Callwood was eligible for benefits.
Allegheny appealed to the referee who also found that Callwood was eligible for benefits.
The Board affirmed. Allegheny, 548 Pa. at 358-360, 697 A.2d at 245-246.
Allegheny appealed to this Court which affirmed.
This Court relied on Old Forge Bank v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 666 A.2d 761 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1995), and applied the rule that when a claimant's demotion was justified due to substandard performance, a claimant could still receive benefits if the claimant established that he made a good faith effort in performing his job or his conduct was not tantamount to willful misconduct, and the demotion substantially changed the claimant's benefits or responsibilities. Allegheny, 548 Pa. at 360-361, 697 A.2d at 246.
Our Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed:
Because we hold that the existence of a necessitous and compelling reason in such a case depends solely upon whether the demotion was justified, we reverse the Commonwealth Court's affirmance of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review's grant of benefits to claimant.
. . . the logical focus for determining whether necessitous and compelling reasons exist for a claimant to voluntarily terminate his employment after receiving a demotion is the justification for the demotion. Thus, a claimant does not have necessary and compelling reasons to voluntarily terminate his employment if the demotion was justified because the change in job duties and remuneration was the result of the claimant's fault. . . . Allegheny, 548 Pa. at 358, 365, 697 A.2d at 244, 248.