HARRISBURG – The state Commonwealth Court has upheld an Unemployment Compensation Board of Review order that denied unemployment compensation to a former Arro Consulting employee who quit her job as a result of issues related to breaks and leave that allegedly were needed to cope with narcolepsy and migraines, according to a March 9 opinion written by Judge Anne E. Covey.
Margarethe L. Cotto started her job as an office facilities manager for Arro on July 30, 2011. She notified Arro of her medical issues, and her doctor confirmed that Cotto is likely to become drowsy and fall asleep throughout the day, often at inappropriate times and places, and needed a modified work schedule to allow her to nap and see her doctor.
After she turned in a form that included a statement on her medical condition from her doctor, Arro put her on work-from-home status and would be allowed to use its vehicle while she was working.
When Cotto failed to sign reasonable accommodation forms provided by Arro in July 2015, Arro transferred her to another position at the same rate of pay.
On July 1, 2015, Cotto submitted a document in which one of her doctors stated that she was able to work if she could take scheduled 20-minute naps two or three times a day.
However, the doctor added that Cotto would need intermittent leave because her recurrent times of unwelness could make her unable to work and that she would need "weekly drug holidays" to take her migraine medication.
When Cotto returned to work at Arro on Oct. 5, 2015, a new supervisor allegedly “proposed that [the] claimant attend her medical appointments over her lunch hour,” according to the opinion. The supervisor also allegedly told Cotto that her lunch break could be moved if she needed to attend an appointment at another time.
One of Cotto’s doctors later recommended she not return to the allegedly hostile work environment because of its effect on her emotional and physical health.
Cotto asked for a medical leave of absence on Oct. 9, 2015, but Arro refused to extend the leave until she underwent a medical examination by an independent doctor.
Cotto quit her job and applied for unemployment compensation on Dec. 6, 2015, arguing that “it was the hostile work environment that kept her out of work,” according to the opinion.
Covey wrote in the order that the board’s decision was correct because it “properly determined [the] claimant was not able and available for work.”