June 17--Saying such a job is "inherently dangerous," Commonwealth Court has refused to grant unemployment compensation for a private security guard who quit because he feared for his safety.
Harold I. Lieljuris appealed to the state court when he was denied jobless aid by the state Unemployment Compensation Board of Review after leaving his job patrolling the private Towamensing Trails housing development in Carbon County in May 2013.
Lieljuris voiced concern about gang-related activity in his bailiwick, which has about 2,500 houses and 60 miles of roads, according to court records. He said his worries heightened after information he gave to state police resulted in several drug arrests in the community.
The initial denial of his request for compensation came after a state referee concluded he had quit his job with Legion Security Services Inc. without a compelling reason. As for his fears, the referee noted that Lieljuris should have perceived the danger of the job when he accepted a post where he was required to carry a gun and wear a bullet-proof vest.
Also, the referee found that his employer did provide Lieljuris with options to reduce the element of risk, including allowing him work at another site and advising him not to be aggressive or make patrol stops at night. Lieljuris had asked his boss to assign another officer to work with him on night shifts, but the referee noted that contractual issues prevented his employer from approving that request.
In her court's recent opinion upholding the denial of jobless aid, Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer noted there was no evidence of any specific threat against Lieljuris when he quit. She also cited the compensation review board's finding that Lieljuris' work environment "was no more dangerous than usual."
"A subjective concern over an unsafe work environment, absent a showing that the work environment is more unsafe than usual, is not sufficient to constitute a necessitous and compelling cause to quit," Jubelirer wrote
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