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General Information about Pennsylvania
For over 20 years the Unemployment Help Center. Ltd. has been successfully representing Claimants at Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearings and Appeals
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Changes in Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefit Law!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Act 6 of 2011, which was signed into law on June 17, 2011, amended the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law in a number of ways. These changes include for the first time a severance pay offset against unemployment compensation benefits. Under the new law, "severance pay" is defined as:
one or more payments made by an employer to an employe on account of separation from the service of the employer, regardless of whether the employer is legally bound by contract, statute or otherwise to make such payments. The term does not include payments for pension, retirement or accrued leave or payments of supplemental unemployment benefits.
The offset is calculated by subtracting 40 percent of the "average annual wage" under the Unemployment Compensation Law from the total severance amount. Currently, this "40% of the average annual wage" calculation equals $17,853, which means that claimants can receive up to $17,853 in total severance pay before their unemployment compensation benefits are affected. The amount of the severance attributed as an offset in any given week will equal the claimant's full-time daily or weekly wage, and the offset begins with the first week immediately following the claimant's separation from employment.
The effective date of the Act's severance pay provision is January 1, 2012.
- voluntarily quit without necessitous and compelling cause;
- is fired for willful misconduct;
- is unable to work or unavailable for work;
- has failed to apply for or accept suitable work;
- is involved in a labor dispute other than a lockout;
- is receiving unemployment benefits from another State or the Federal government;
- has failed to report to file claims in a timely manner; or
- is convicted and incarcerated.
PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF REVIEW APPEALS
I LOST MY PENNSYLVANIA UNEMPLOYMENT HEARING, WHAT CAN I DO NOW?
We receive many calls from folks that have lost their Unemployment Hearing before an Unemployment Referee, who would like to appeal that decision to the Pennsylvania Unemployment Board of Review. Here are 7 things to understand about appeals the the UCBOR:
WHAT IS THE PA UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW?
The UCBOR is made up of 3 people. These 3 people consider every single appeal filed by anyone contesting a decision made by a Referee following an Unemployment Hearing. There are many such appeals, and the overwhelming majority are rejected with limited discussion (if any discussion at all).
HOW DOES THE PA UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW DECIDE CASES?
Every Unemployment Hearing is recorded. Once an appeal is filed, a transcript of the proceedings is produced. The UCBOR reviews the transcript, and all exhibits that were introduced at the Hearing. Both parties have a right to file a brief explaining why they believe the Referee's decision is incorrect/correct. Any such briefs will be considered as well.
The UCBOR has reviewed thousands of appeals, and recognize nearly every fact pattern and legal issue presented. Referee's are similarly knowledgeable about fact patterns and the law; that is why a very low percentage (say less than 15%) of Referee decisions are overturned. The rate for the Unemployment Help Center is much higher – closer to say 70% winners.
If you did not have a skilled representative representing you at the Hearing, the percentages are lower. Why? Because the Board only considers legal issues that were raised before the Referee at the Hearing. So? Most reversals are due to legal arguments (as opposed to reversing credibility determinations made by the Referee), and attorneys best understand how to raise and preserve legal issues for an appeal,
WHAT CAN THE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW DO WITH AN APPEAL?
Typically, it can 1) affirm the Referee's decision (just about always); 2) reverse the Referee's decision (rarely, but sometimes); or, 3) send the case back to the Referee to obtain evidence or to hold a new Hearing (very rare).
DOES THE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW CONSIDER NEW EVIDENCE ON AN APPEAL?
Almost never. The parties on appeal are "stuck" with whatever testimony and evidence was presented at the initial Hearing before the Referee.
The only exception I have seen? Where an employee, after the Hearing, discovers evidence that he or she could not possibly have discovered prior to the Hearing that proves that the employer perjured itself at the Hearing. Don't count on this happening in your case -- it is very rare.
DOES THE PENNSYLVANIA UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW HOLD HEARINGS?
Never. All Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearings are held by Referees. The UCBOR rarely if ever considers new evidence on an appeal, and never conducts its own Hearing.
WHAT DO I DO IF THE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW DENIES MY APPEAL?
You may appeal to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Unless you have been represented by counsel throughout your unemployment claims process, the likelihood of finding an attorney who will handle such an appeal for you is very low - any any such attorney will likely seek a substantial fee. Why? Because, again, any reversals are going to be based only on legal issues that were raised at the Hearing (and argued before the UCBOR), and attorneys are best suited to raise and preserve such arguments.
WHAT TYPES OF CASES ARE GOOD TO APPEAL TO THE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW IN PA?
Typically, cases that were incorrectly decided via a misapplication of the law. In such cases, filing a legal brief can be very helpful.
Trying to prove that the Referee misunderstood facts, that he/she was wrong in making credibility determinations or that the Referee unfairly favored one side of the other are usually rejected out of hand by the UCBOR.
New Unemployment Case Law: Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Upholds * Unemployment Board of Appeal's Ruling – Claimant was terminated and did not quit.
In Baskin's Auto, Inc. v. Unemployment Board of Review the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upheld a ruling by the Pennsylvania Unemployment Board of Review finding that the Claimant was terminated and did not quit as the employer alleged. Here, the employer contended that Claimant quit his job when he did not return to work – NOT SO said the Unemployment Board of Review – the Employer said that that the claimant abandoned his position and that continuing work was available. The Board believed the Claimant that he was told to “go find other work>’ This was a termination not a quit
The law used for this case says:
Whether a termination of employment is voluntary is a question of law subject to this Court’s review. The failure of an employee to take all reasonable steps to preserve employment results in a voluntary termination. Westwood v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 532 A.2d 1281 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1987). Good cause for voluntarily leaving one’s employment results from circumstances which produce pressure to terminate employment that is both real and substantial and which would compel a reasonable person under the circumstances to act in the same manner. Philadelphia Parking Authority v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 654 A.2d 280 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1995).
We at the Unemployment Help Center run into this situation all the time. Our client was clearly fired (or terminated) yet the employer insists that the Claimant quit. If this is your situation you need to contact us today! Use the form below or call 610-972-6610
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