There were three decisions on unemployment benefits issued this week from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  The first is noteworthy because it is a published opinion that defines a term -- "good cause" in the context of not participating in reemployment services -- that is not defined in the applicable statute.

1. A14-1487,  Patrick Hammer Fay, Relator, vs. Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator Patrick Fay was eligible for unemployment benefits but missed a reemployment assistance services meeting. Respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) determined that relator was ineligible for unemployment benefits for the week that he missed the meeting because he failed, without good cause, to attend. Relator filed an online appeal and an unemployment law judge (ULJ) conducted an evidentiary hearing. The ULJ found that relator did not have good cause for missing the meeting and was ineligible for unemployment benefits for the relevant week. Relator requested a rehearing and the ULJ affirmed. Relator appealed to this court under Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(a) (2014).

DEED determined that relator needed reemployment assistance services and mailed relator a notice that indicated he had an appointment. The notice provided in bold and underlined typeface that: “Failure to attend will result in a delay or denial of your unemployment benefits.” Relator missed the scheduled reemployment assistance services meeting. Relator testified that he “put [the meeting] in [his] schedule and . . . simply missed it.” Relator also said that the meeting was easy to attend because he lived 500 feet from the building. The ULJ asked relator if he had any other facts to provide regarding the missed meeting and he responded that he did not. Relator attended a subsequent reemployment assistance services meeting.

The Court of Appeals noted that the term "good cause" in the context of not participating in reemployment services is not defined in the applicable statute.  Using the doctrine of statutory construction known as "in pari materia" (where an undefined term in one statute can by defined by another statute with similar intent), the Appeals Court determined that, in the context of having "good cause" for failing to participate in reemployment services, defined the term "good cause" as "a reason that would have prevented a reasonable person acting with due diligence from participating in those services."

After defining the term, the Court of Appeals concluded that relator did not have the requisite "good cause" for failing to participate, and affirmed the denial of benefits.

2. A14-1561, Carrie L. Zupko, Relator, vs. St. Francis Campus Credit Union, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator challenges the decision of the unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that she was discharged because of employment misconduct, arguing that the false representations she made at her supervisor’s request were part of a single incident and a good-faith error in judgment.  On one occasion, relator pretended to be from the credit union's accounting department..  On another occasion, relator reversed a loan transaction without proper documentation.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeals affirmed.

3. A14-1806,. Jonathan C. Barnett, Relator, vs. Soligent Distribution LLC, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator challenges a final decision of an unemployment law judge (ULJ) affirming the earlier dismissal of relator’s appeal as untimely. Relator argues that, under the circumstances, the time allowed to appeal is unreasonable.  More specifically, Barrett argues that he did not receive the determination because he was attending a 12-week training in Texas and then attending his father's funeral.  However, as it has many times in the past, the Court of Appeals refused to make an exception to the strict rule that an appeal has to be filed within 20 days of the date of a negative determination.  Accordingly, the denial 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.  



02/29/2016 7:23am

I would love to find out more articles on this blog site and also share it. to my friends.

06/13/2016 6:01am

Unemployment benefits can be a sensitive topic. By law, no emotions are considered. It is one thing that law students should remember. They need to practice to detach themselves from their would-be clients so that they can provide the most objective solutions. Being too much emotionally involved can mar the decision making of a lawyer.

07/12/2016 10:48pm

Was the denial really affirmed?

07/31/2016 12:40pm

This is a good research, thanks!

08/14/2016 6:21pm

The court appeals had announced that decisions on unemployment benefits are going too increased soon. Many important implication and changes are happening to this announcement.


Good article, but it would be better if in future you can share more about this subject. Keep posting.

04/27/2017 9:11pm

We need more info about this issue, hope you give some additional updates. Thanks!


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