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Petrilla Ruled Ineligible For Unemployment Benefits

January 12, 2019
Petrilla Ruled Ineligible For Unemployment Benefits

Butler Twp.’s long-time manager Maryanne Petrilla, who said she faced hostile working conditions and was told to leave her job, didn’t persuade a hearing referee to continue her unemployment benefits.

Leonard Omolecki, who refereed her hearing Jan. 3, concluded that Petrilla quit voluntarily and is ineligible for benefits.

Omolecki decided that Petrilla quit after threatening to leave unless the township supervisors replaced their solicitor, with whom she had a personality conflict.

State courts, Omolecki wrote in his decision, have ruled that employees who quit because of personality conflicts or criticism cannot receive compensation unless they prove their working conditions were intolerable and unless they tried to fix problems and keep their jobs.

Omolecki failed to find that Petrilla had a compelling reason for leaving or that she made a good faith effort to stay employed. Testimony he cited in the decision included that of Supervisor Charles Altmiller, who said Petrilla could have kept her job.

Petrilla testified that township officials didn’t respond when her attorney asked for a meeting to discuss her return to work.

Omolecki also wrote that Petrilla “was less than candid” about whether she quit.

When applying for benefits online, Petrilla said she quit for personal reasons and then explained that the reasons were due to a hostile work environment that affected her emotionally and physically, Omolecki wrote.

During the hearing, Omolecki asked if she quit, and Petrilla said she was told to leave.

Petrilla testified that the online form required her to say she quit or was fired.

Brian Kisenwether, the supervisors’ chairman, told her to go and said she could be replaced on June 12, 2018, after he pounded on her office door, turned red in the face and pointed his finger at her, Petrilla testified.

Kisenwether testified, however, that Petrilla gave an ultimatum and said she was going to quit.

After the exchange on June 12, Petrilla went on medical leave, and she didn’t return to work after the leave expired on Sept. 5.

She had been receiving unemployment benefits prior to Omolecki’s decision, which she and the township received this week.

Petrilla said the decision disappointed her, and she will appeal to the state’s Unemployment Compensation Board of Review.

She served as township manager from 1995 to 2005, spent eight years in Luzerne County government after being elected controller and commissioner, and returned to the township in 2012.

Contact the writer:

kjackson@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3587