This week there were four decisions on unemployment benefits issued by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  The first is noteworthy because it is an appeal by the employer involving the interesting question of whether a person is an employee or independent contractor.  The second is curious because, although the case involves issues of employment misconduct, one of the three judges on the Court of Appeals panel that heard the case dissented.  The third case stresses the importance of filing a timely appeal of an unfavorable determination.  The fourth case is a fairly unremarkable employment misconduct case.


1. A13-2345, Monica Peterson, Respondent vs. A-Z Friendly Languages, Inc., Relator, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

This appeal concerns whether an unemployment law judge correctly held that an agency that provides interpreter services is obligated to cover its former interpreters as “employees” eligible to receive unemployment benefits. A-Z Friendly Languages, Inc., challenges an unemployment law judge’s determination that one of its interpreters and all 
similarly situated workers are employees rather than independent contractors. We hold that the circumstances demonstrate that interpreter Monica Peterson worked only as an independent contractor. Even if this were not so, the unemployment law judge lacked a sufficient factual basis to extend his ruling to characterize all similar workers as employees. We reverse.

2.  A14-0226, Mario Vasquez, Relator, vs. Safe-Way Bus Co., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator challenges an unemployment-law judge’s decision that he is ineligible for unemployment benefits because he was discharged for employment misconduct.  The ULJ found that Relator had "used" his cell phone while driving a bus by turning the ringer on silent, thereby committing employment misconduct.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, but the dissent wrote that:

I respectfully dissent because I believe the majority misinterprets an employer’s suggestion as a directive, thereby engaging in inappropriate fact-finding and undermining the remedial purpose of the unemployment-benefits statute.

3. A14-0153, Jagjewan Tamaldeo, Relator, vs. Marsden Building Maintenance LLC, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development,Respondent.

Relator Jagjewan Tamaldeo seeks review of the decision by an unemployment law judge (ULJ) affirming the dismissal of his appeal of an ineligibility determination as untimely.  In this case, Relator filed his appeal one day late, but the law is clear that

A determination of ineligibility is final unless the applicant files an appeal within 20 calendar days after the determination is sent to the applicant. Minn. Stat. § 268.101, subd. 2(f) (2012). “An untimely appeal from a determination must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.” Stassen v. Lone Mountain Truck Leasing, LLC, 814 N.W.2d 25, 29(Minn. App. 2012). “There is no equitable or common law denial or allowance of unemployment benefits.” Minn. Stat. § 268.069, subd. 3 (2012).

For all of these reasons, the Appeals Court affirmed the decision.

4.  A14-0391, Ali Jama, Relator, vs. Marsden Building Maintenance LLC, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

We affirm the decision of the unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that relator committed employment misconduct by failing to complete an assigned task because the ULJ’s findings are substantially supported by the record and because the ULJ conducted a fair hearing.

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.



08/31/2015 4:12am

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