There were three decisions this week on unemployment benefits from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  The first case involved a consolidated appeal.  The second case is somewhat unusual because it affirms the denial of unemployment benefits before a certain date, but reverses a denial of unemployment benefits after a certain date because the relator was actively seeking suitable employment after that date.  The third is another reminder that an applicant is ineligible for unemployment benefits if the applicant was terminated by employment misconduct.  All decisions were released on Monday 12/8/14.

1. Sarah N. Lewis, Relator (A14-0106), Carole M. Smith, Relator (A14-0107), Leslie J. Shank, Relator (A14-0108), Sunmi Chang, Relator (A14-0109), Daria T. Adams, Relator (A14-0110),
Michael B. Israelievitch, Relator (A14-0111), Joshua N. Koestenbaum, Relator (A14-0112), Lynn M. Erickson, Relator (A14-0113), vs. St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Society, Respondent, and Department of Employment and Economic Development,Respondent.

In these consolidated petitions, relators, all musicians with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, seek certiorari review of an unemployment-law judge’s (ULJ) decision that they are ineligible for unemployment benefits because their weekly earnings exceeded the amount of their weekly unemployment benefits.  Relators applied for unemployment benefits in the off-season, when they were not working but nonetheless receiving a paycheck.  

The problem is that relators were not considered unemployed, and hence not eligible for unemployment benefits.  Minn. Stat. 268.035, subd. 26 says that “[a]n applicant is considered ‘unemployed’(1) in any week that the applicant performs less than 32 hours of service in employment,covered employment, noncovered employment, self-employment, or volunteer work; and (2) any earnings with respect to that week are less than the applicant’s weekly unemployment benefit amount.”  Although relators worked less than 32 hours per week in the off season, they nevertheless were getting paid more than the amount of their weekly unemployment benefit.

For all of these reasons, the ULJ's decision that the relators were ineligible for unemployment benefits was affirmed.

2. A14-0161, Julie Strowbridge,Relator, vs. Maid in America, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator Julie Strowbridge challenges the unemployment-law judge’s determination that she was ineligible for unemployment benefits and that she had to repay $997 of benefits she had already received. Because Strowbridge was unavailable for suitable employment from July 7 to August 4, 2013, we affirm the denial of benefits for that period of time. Because Strowbridge was available for and actively seeking suitable employment beginning on August 5, 2013, we reverse the denial of benefits after that date.

3. A14-0850, David K. Beckwith, Relator, vs. Duluth Lawn & Sport, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator challenges the decision by an unemployment law judge (ULJ) that he was discharged for employment misconduct and is ineligible for unemployment benefits. More specifically,  relator David Beckwith asserts that he is entitled to unemployment benefits because he was not given warnings by his employer, Duluth Lawn & Sport, that his behavior was inappropriate, other employees who were not terminated exhibited similar inappropriate behavior, and the ULJ made factual errors to support her decision.

The ULJ found that Beckwith “had multiple violations of policy on cell phone use, punching out for lunch, and being absent or leaving earlywithout permission, and he had incidents of recklessness and a final incident of swearing
in front of customers.”  In other words, Beckwith committed employment misconduct -- a violation of the standards of behavior that an employer has the right to reasonably expect -- and was ineligible for unemployment benefits.  The ULJ's decision was affirmed.

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. 



03/26/2015 9:56am

Appreciating the persistence you put into your blog and detailed information you provide. I’ve bookmarked your site, thank you

10/11/2016 10:50am

Thanks for this info. I had no idea that this was happening with the unemployment benefits. I like to be updated and you helped me with that, so thanks!


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