Internet delay causes appeal to be filed too late; Man had tried to submit it with 14 seconds to spare

By Dee Thompson | Jul 11, 2017

HARRISBURG – A man who waited until 14 seconds before the deadline to file his unemployment appeal has lost that appeal at the Commonwealth Court.

Frederick W. Chapman petitioned the Commonwealth Court to review the dismissal of his appeal to the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review. The Board had dismissed the appeal as being filed in an untimely fashion. 

Chapman worked as a mathematics copy editor for Khan Academy. When his employment was terminated, he filed for unemployment benefits, which were denied. He appealed. 

In April 2016, the denial of benefits was affirmed. Chapman had 15 days to appeal that decision and a number of ways to file the appeal – by fax, in person, internet, regular mail or email.

According to the court opinion, a warning on the notice stated that there could be delays due to the electronic signal and that risk was assumed. Pennsylvania law and the Department of Labor and Industry’s regulation also affirmed the 15-day time period and the assumption of risk if using electronic means of filing.

Chapman’s Petition for Appeal petition for appeal "...was transmitted via email on April 22, 2016, purportedly at 11:59:46 p.m., but was not received by the Board’s server until April 23, 2016, at 12:00 a.m.,” according to the court opinion by Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini Pellegrini.

Chapman presented evidence at the hearing that his Gmail timestamp showed that the email was sent at 11:59:46. He also argued that in regular mail the date sent (when the mail was stamped) was the criterion of when it was considered filed.

The law (34 Pa. Code § 101.82(b)(4) states that an appeal is designated as received when it has actually been logged in, not the date it was sent.

The Commonwealth Court affirmed the board’s order dismissing the appeal as untimely, noting that “Claimant should have taken the time to prepare the appeal with more than 14 seconds to be received by the Board’s electronic transmission system.”

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