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There was one decision this week on unemployment benefits from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

A14-1685, Voeurn A. Sandberg, Relator, vs. Zaws, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment & Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator challenges the unemployment-law judge’s (ULJ) determination that she was ineligible during the period for which she sought benefits because she was not available for or actively seeking suitable employment because she was unwilling to commute more than 15 miles from her home.  The ULJ found that Sandberg’s unwillingness to commute more than 15 miles was “an unreasonable, self-imposed restriction” because suitable employment included employment beyond a 15-mile radius, and denied her benefits because she was not available for or actively seeking suitable employment. Sandberg requested reconsideration, asserting that she is willing to work more than 15 miles from her home, but was again denied.  The Court of Appeals agreed with the ULJ's reasoning and findings, and affirmed the denial of unemployment benefits.


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. 

 
 
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There was one decision this week on unemployment benefits from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  The case is unique because the applicant was represented by an attorney, but is ordinary because it stands for the proposition that quitting a job without good reason to quit caused by the employer makes an applicant for unemployment benefits ineligible for such benefits.

A14-0775, Kennedy N. Mogere, Relator, vs. Minnesota Masonic Home Northridge (Corp.), Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator Kennedy Mogere challenges the decision of the unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that he is ineligible for unemployment benefits because he quit his job without good reason to quit caused by the employer, arguing that the ULJ failed to fully develop the record. Because the ULJ fully developed the record and sufficient evidence exists to support the decision, we affirm.

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. 

 
 
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There were three orders on attorney discipline issued this week by the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The first two cases involved a public reprimand and suspension from the practice of law for a period of time.  The third case involved reinstating an attorney who was formerly suspended.

1. A15-0259, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Richard William Hechter, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 193537.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Richard William Hechter committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely, failing to promptly withdraw earned fees and costs from his trust account, commingling earned fees and costs with client funds in his trust account, creating shortages in his trust account, issuing trust account checks in direct payment of his own personal and/or business expenses, and failing to maintain the required trust account books and records, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.15(a), (b), (c)(3), and (h), and Appendix 1 thereto.

The parties jointly recommend that the appropriate discipline is a public reprimand and 2 years of probation, during which respondent's books and records will be available for the Director's review.  Accordingly, that is what the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered.

2. A14-1589, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Richard Lee Swanson, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 173423.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Richard Lee Swanson committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely: with respect to four client matters, failing to adequately communicate with clients, failing to diligently pursue client
cases, failing to appear for hearings, failing to obtain the consent of one client to the involvement of substitute counsel, making a false statement to one client, failing to properly refund the unearned portion of clients' retainers, and failing to provide a copy of one client's file; and committing trust account violations by failing to maintain proper
trust account books and records, failing to promptly withdraw earned fees from a trust account, commingling earned fees with client funds, and failing to deposit advance attorney fees payments and an advance filing fee payment in trust, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a)(3) and (4), 1.5(b), 1.6(a), 1.15, 1.16(d), 4.1, and 8.4(b),
(c), and (d).

The parties jointly recommend that the appropriate discipline is a 90-day suspension and 2 years of supervised probation. In their stipulation, the parties indicate that respondent presented evidence of several mitigating factors to the Director.  Accordingly, that is what the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered.

3. A14-2158, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Shannon M. Fitzpatrick, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 345349.

By order filed on February 12, 2015, we suspended respondent Shannon M. Fitzpatrick from the practice of law for a minimum of 30 days, effective from the date of the filing of the order. Respondent has filed an affidavit seeking reinstatement in which she states that she has fully complied with the terms of the suspension order, except for
successful completion of the professional responsibility portion of the state bar examination. The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility does not oppose the request.  Accordingly, the Minnesota Supreme Court conditionally reinstated Respondent Fitzpatrick to the practice of law in the State of Minnesota, subject to her successful completion of the professional responsibility portion of the state bar examination, and is placed on
disciplinary probation for 2 years.

Tim represents attorneys facing professional discipline, and consults with attorneys about whether a particular situation or proposed course of conduct implicates the Rules of Professional Conduct.  When faced with a situation that may implicate the Rules of Professional Conduct, Tim always recommends that an attorney seek an advisory opinion from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. 

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.


 
 
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There were two decisions this week on unemployment benefits from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  In the first decision, the Court of Appeals concluded that an applicant quit employment when that applicant applied for unemployment benefits.  The second decision is unique because it addresses the issue of whether an overpayment of unemployment benefits is a debt subject to Revenue Recapture and contains a dissent.

1. A14-1418, Amanulah Dharsee, Relator, vs. Rubber Industries, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator challenges the unemployment-law judge’s (ULJ) determination that he is ineligible for unemployment benefits, arguing that he did not have a fair hearing because he did not have an interpreter (although the ULJ continued the hearing so that Relator could obtain an interpreter) and that the ULJ erred in finding that he quit his employment.  Dharsee’s doctor concluded that he was still unable to return to his former position but possibly able to do light-duty work. Dharsee contends that others contacted Rubber Industries on his behalf and learned that no light-duty work was available. In February 2014, Dharsee applied for unemployment benefits, asserting that he had been discharged from his employment. Rubber Industries concluded that Dharsee quit when it received notice of his application for benefits.  The ULJ concluded that Dharsee quit, thereby making him ineligible for unemployment benefits, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.

2. A14-0727, Eunice Smith, Relator, vs. Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator Eunice Smith challenges a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) unemployment law judge’s (ULJ) decision that she owes a debt recoverable under the Minnesota Revenue Recapture Act. Relator argues on appeal that she owes no debt because the November 20 order opinion reversed without remand and therefore eliminated any debt owed to DEED for overpaid benefits. DEED argues that the November 20 order opinion reversed only the fraud penalty and that the remaining debt is properly subject to recapture. Both parties agree that the Minnesota Revenue Recapture Act procedures were followed and that the sole issue on appeal is whether relator owes a debt.

The Court of Appeals ruled that because the November 20 order opinion is unambiguous in reversing relator’s fraud penalty and determining that relator had not appealed or argued the overpayment issue, the law of the case requires the conclusion that a debt exists and that it is recoverable under the Minnesota Revenue Recapture Act.

In dissent, Judge Chutich wrote:

I respectfully dissent because I disagree with the majority about the effect of our previous order dated November 20, 2013. Without attacking that order collaterally, I note that the plain terms of the order unambiguously reversed the unemployment-law judge’s April 16, 2013 decision on reconsideration. The reconsideration order, in turn, reaffirmed an order dated January 7, 2013, in which the unemployment-law judge specifically considered not only the fraud issue, but also the issue of whether Eunice Smith performed 32 hours or more of services in a week.

Moreover, the January 7 order contained language suggesting that it was a consolidation of the previous decision (issued on December 28, 2012) that pertained to the same two issues (fraud and overpayment), but was simply issued to inform Smith of the amount of the fraud penalty.

Finally, in the words of the dissent, "[the] proceeding [i]s an astounding procedural morass," created by the ULJ, the applicant, and the Department itself.  For all of these reasons, the dissent would reverse the decision of the unemployment-law judge that a debt existed that could be subject to revenue recapture.  However, the dissent is just that: the dissent, meaning a disagreement with the majority opinion, and the majority -- not the dissent -- has the final say, expresses the official opinion of the court, and carries the day.

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.  

 
 
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The Minnesota Supreme Court issued one decision (really, a brief order) last week on attorney discipline and ethics.

A14-1035, In re Petition for Reinstatement of Christopher C. Greenman, a Minnesota Attorney,Registration No. 0349719.

Attorney Greenman voluntarily resigned from the practice of law in September 2011, and then filed a petition for reinstatement on June 19, 2014.  The Court, adopting the recommendation of a panel from the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, found that petitioner has proven by clear and convincing evidence his ethical fitness and competence to practice law and has met all of the conditions for reinstatement.  Accordingly, the Minnesota Supreme Court reinstated the petitioner to the practice of law in Minnesota.

Tim represents attorneys facing professional discipline, and consults with attorneys about whether a particular situation or proposed course of conduct implicates the Rules of Professional Conduct.  When faced with a situation that may implicate the Rules of Professional Conduct, Tim always recommends that an attorney seek an advisory opinion from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. 

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.

 
 
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There were four unpublished decisions on unemployment benefits released by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  The first three decisions reinforce the rule that an applicant who commits employment misconduct is ineligible for unemployment benefits.  The fourth decision reinforces the rule that quitting a job without good reason caused by the employer makes an applicant ineligible for unemployment benefits.

1. A14-1381 Patricia Medal, Relator, vs. Agassiz Federal Credit Union, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

By certiorari review, relator challenges the decision of an unemployment-law judge that she is ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was discharged for unemployment misconduct. She argues that the employer failed to provide evidence that she frequently made mistakes or failed to perform her duties; that her conduct was at most unsatisfactory or the result of good-faith errors in judgment; and that she was discharged only after the board of directors was advised of the employer’s unethical conduct. We affirm.

2. A14-0778 Gloria Johnson, Relator, vs. Minneapolis Special School District #001, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator challenges the unemployment law judge’s (ULJ) decision that she is ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was discharged for employment misconduct, arguing that her conduct constituted ordinary negligence and was not a serious violation of the standards of behavior expected by her employer. The misconduct in this case was that the Relator, a school-bus driver, twice did not complete a required walk-through and left special-needs children on the bus after completing her route.  Because substantial evidence supports the ULJ’s decision that relator was discharged for employment misconduct, we affirm.

3.A14-1302 Jayne M. Eiden-Kellam, petitioner, Relator, vs. Mayo Clinic Health System – Fairmont, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator appeals the decision of the unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that she was ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was discharged for employment misconduct.  The misconduct in this case was that Relator, a customer-service representative for Mayo clinic, illegally accessed confidential patient information. We affirm.

4.  A14-0967 Margaret Acker, Relator, vs. Inter City Oil Co., Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

We affirm the determination of the unemployment law judge (ULJ) that relator is ineligible for employment benefits because the record supports the ULJ’s finding that relator quit her employment.  More specifically, the ULJ found that relator had quit because she faxed a blank sheet of paper to the employer saying “You can fill this out yourself and leave my name off[.] I am DONE[.]”

The ULJ found the employer's testimony that relator had quit more credible.  The Court of Appeals did not find error in the ULJ’s credibility determinations. The ULJ’s factual findings are supported by substantial evidence.  For all of these reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed the ULJ's decision.

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.  



 
 
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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.