This week there were two unpublished opinions from the Minnesota Court of Appeals related to unemployment benefits. The relator in the first case challenges the ULJ’s determination of her ineligibility to collect unemployment benefits based on the fact that her appeal was untimely.  The appeal by the relator in the second case one see many times – the ULJ’s decision that she is ineligible to receive unemployment benefits because of employee misconduct. Both cases were affirmed.

1.   A14-0225   Diane Quick, Relator, vs. Polar Semiconductor, Inc., Respondent,  Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Summary:  On certiorari review from an unemployment-law judge’s (ULJ’s) decision dismissing relator’s appeal as untimely, relator argues that (1) her appeal from a determination of ineligibility based on her reason for quitting was not untimely because the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) had not yet ruled on the companion issue of whether she was able to work and was actively seeking work; (2) her submission of responses to questions before the appeal deadline constituted an appeal under Minn. Stat. § 268.103, subd. 2(b) (2012); and (3) DEED sent relator documents containing erroneous information that led her to believe she no longer needed to appeal from the determination of ineligibility

Here are the three responses from the Court in regard to relator’s three argumentative issues above:

(1) Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(7), states that the ineligibility exception for quitting employment for medical necessity “raises an issue of the applicant’s being available for suitable employment under section 268.085, subdivision 1, that the commissioner must determine.” But nothing in this section states that both issues must be resolved together or that the statutory appeal time limit is tolled until the issue of availability for work is resolved. We note that ineligibility issues may arise at different times. Therefore, we conclude that DEED was not required to issue a unitary determination on all issues related to relator’s eligibility for unemployment benefits.

(2) Relator also contends that the act itself of responding to DEED’s request for information showed that relator believed herself to be entitled to benefits. But DEED asserts that relator’s responses in no way address the issue of whether she quit for personal or medical reasons. We agree. We conclude that the October 7 statement cannot reasonably be interpreted as an appeal of the September 24 determination of ineligibility.

(3) We agree with relator that the notifications she received from DEED indicating the presence or absence of “pending” issues related to her eligibility for benefits were confusing, but we conclude that the statements were not so misleading that the burden of the misunderstanding should be borne by DEED.

Relator did not fully follow DEED’s appeal instructions where her determination of ineligibility letter clearly stated that the determination would be final on October 14, 2013, and relator did not appeal the determination until October 16, 2013.  Relator was determined ineligible for benefits on two separate bases, either one of which would result in her inability to receive benefits.

Although the Court affirmed the ULJ’s decision, I found the last paragraph of the Court’s decision interesting, noting, DEED’s “ . . . lack of clarity with which it communicates with applicants for benefits.  . . Deed should carefully consider how and what it communicates with applicants for benefits so as to fulfill its purpose as stated in law.”

2. A14-0233   Deborah Brakefield, Relator, vs. IND. School District #2889, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Summary:  Relator challenges the decision by an unemployment law judge (ULJ) that she was discharged for employment misconduct and is ineligible for unemployment benefits, arguing that the ULJ improperly relied on hearsay and improperly interpreted other evidence; that she was prejudiced because certain evidence was not available; and that she had been subjected to discrimination and a hostile environment. Because substantial evidence supports the ULJ’s decision, relator received a fair hearing, and she did not raise claims of discrimination or a hostile work environment to the ULJ, we affirm

This week there was also an Order Opinion released. Cases that involve a few simple issues may be decided by order opinions, which include little discussion of the facts of the case and a brief analysis of the laws that are involved.  This Order Opinion merits attention because DEED conceded that it erred in determining whether Relator was eligible for unemployment benefits.  Still, the Order Opinion does not say how the ULJ erred.

3. A14-0654 Vernon E. Wallace, Relator, vs. Metro Center for Independent Living, Inc., Respondent,  Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent. Reversed and remanded.

Summary: In this petition for certiorari review, relator Vernon E. Wallace challenges the March 14, 2014 decision by an unemployment law judge (ULJ), in which the ULJ affirmed his initial decision that relator is ineligible for unemployment benefits because he was discharged for employment misconduct. Relator asks this court to reverse or, in the alternative, to reverse and remand for an additional hearing.

Respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) filed a letter in lieu of a respondent's brief, conceding that the ULJ erred and asking this court to reverse and remand with instructions for the ULJ to hold another hearing and consider additional evidence.  Accordingly, the case was reversed and remanded.

If you are denied unemployment benefits, or are an employer who wants to challenge a former employee's eligibility for benefits, your best bet is to meet with an attorney who handles unemployment appeals to discuss your options.  To that end, I represent both applicants and employers in unemployment appeals.  Please call (763) 450-9494 today to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, you should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.



08/21/2015 2:24pm

Unemployment of the human race is of great grief and concern for any government and administration. The decisions regarding the unemployment are welcomed hall heartedly and with great zeal. Let’s hope they are implemented.


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