Employers cannot negotiate with employees to give up their Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Posted October 2012 in Unemployment Compensation by Sharon Lopez

In April 2012 the Commonwealth Court upheld and opinion of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of Big Mt. Imaging v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, No. 2138 C.D. 2011, 48 A.3d 492 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2012).  The appeal arises from an employee who left his job and was found eligible for benefits nearly two months after leaving the job.  The worker was owed about two months of benefits and he was behind on his rent and other bills.  The ex-employer offered to hire the worker back but only if he withdrew his application for benefits.  The worker declined and the employer objected to his continued benefits because he offered him suitable work and the worker turned it down.  The Unemployment Compensation Board of Review denied the employer’s appeal and affirmed the worker’s right to continued benefits.  Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson issued the precedential opinion affirming the Board of Review’s decision.  Judge Simpson wrote that this scenario “illustrates the potential abuse the General Assembly sought to alleviate by prohibiting employees from contractually waiving their right to collect unemployment benefits.”  The worker’s need for the benefits was a real and substantial reason for rejecting the employer’s offer of employment.

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