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Although there were only two unpublished opinions this week, both were reversed and one was also remanded. In the first case, the Relator is found ineligible for benefits due to employee misconduct.  The Appeals Court reversed the decision, without remanding it back to the Department of Employment and Economic Development. The second case (which was reversed and remanded) relates to the Relator’s ineligibility for quitting without good reason attributable to his employer.

1.  A13-2346  Richard Hammerstad, Relator, vs. Princeton Auto Center, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Summary:  Relator challenges an unemployment-law judge’s decision that he is ineligible for unemployment benefits due to employment misconduct.  Princeton Auto Center (the employer) claimed that the employee did not have a valid driver’s license due to a recent DUI and is therefore not able to drive vehicles and perform his duties as described at time of hire.

During the hearing, the ULJ asked Princeton whether a license was a requirement of Hammerstad’s job, and Princeton responded, “Yes. Mr. Hammerstad was a service technician and driving vehicles is a required part of the job due to diagnosis and other facets of vehicle repair.”  Princeton acknowledged that, when it hired Hammerstad, it knew that Hammerstad did not have a driver’s license. Hammerstad argues that his lack of a valid driver’s license did not constitute employment misconduct. Under the circumstances in this case, we agree, and reverse.

2.  A14-0050  Benson Giwa, Relator, vs. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Summary: Relator challenges the determination of the unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that he is ineligible to receive unemployment benefits because he quit his employment without good reason attributable to his employer.  Giwa asserted two separate bases for quitting his job: (1) he was subjected to harassment by coworkers; and (2) Wal-Mart breached its agreement to schedule Giwa to work four days each week.

Giwa claimed that from 2004 to 2013 he was subjected to racial slurs and harassment by department managers. During these years, Giwa made numerous complaints about the harassment and racial slurs to various managers, but nothing was ever done about it.  Finally, March 2012, Giwa complained to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR), who then recommended mediation for Giwa and Wal-Mart. However, Wal-Mart representatives failed to show up at any of the three scheduled mediation appointments. 

Wal-Mart then began to schedule Giwa to only one day of work instead of his usual four days. The ULJ characterized Wal-Mart’s scheduling of Giwa as a “simple mistake” and determined that “a single week of reduced hours would not compel the average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed.” The Court stated, “We cannot determine the legal issue of whether Giwa’s reason for quitting amounted to ‘good cause’ because ULJ’s factual findings are not ‘substantially sustain[ed]’ by the evidence in the record.”  For this reason, the Court of Appeals 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.

                        


 


Comments

10/04/2014 2:18pm

I have checked out both opinions and it is hard to go for one as both makes sense to me. During these years Giwa made numerous complaints about the harassment and racial slurs to various managers but nothing was ever done about it.

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