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There were three decisions on unemployment benefits this week from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  The first two cases are fairly typical because the affirm the rules (1.) that committing employment misconduct makes an applicant ineligible for unemployment benefits and (2.) quitting a job without good reason caused by the employer makes an applicant ineligible, unless that applicant meets an exception to the ineligibility rules.  The third case is unique because the applicant was represented by an attorney and the decision was reversed, but the reversal resulted in a denial of unemployment benefits.

1. A14-1303: Janvier LeViege, Relator, vs. U.S. Postal Service (FIC 732/Dest 1), Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relator challenges an unemployment-law judge’s decision that relator is ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was terminated from employment for misconduct after twice failing to comply with the employer’s policy for reporting unscheduled absences. Relator argues that (1) she did not commit misconduct because the absences were covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and she complied with the FMLA’s reporting requirements; and (2) an additional hearing should have been allowed because she did not receive one of the employer’s exhibits until the hearing date. We affirm.

2. A14-1385: Angela Hofmann, Relator, vs. Minnesota Department of Health, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Angela Hofmann was a health department employee who quit her job after she could no longer meet the travel obligations of her position and her supervisor offered her 2 an extended medical leave of absence. The department of employment and economic development determined that Hofmann is ineligible for unemployment benefits because she did not fall into any exception to the statutory voluntary-quit disqualification provision, which provides that an applicant might be eligible for unemployment benefits if that applicant informs the employer of her disability and requests a reasonable accommodation, but the employer denied the request. Because Hofmann’s employer offered a reasonable accommodation based on the information Hofmann provided, we hold that the medical-necessity exception does not apply and we affirm.

3.  A14-1786: Jolene Van Wyhe, Relator, vs. Thermospas Hot Tub Products, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Relater Jolene Van Wyhe brings a certiorari appeal of a determination that she is ineligible for unemployment benefits, arguing that the unemployment-law judge erred by concluding that she performed services 32 hours per week. Van Wyhe also asserts that the unemployment-law judge’s 2012 decision, which found Van Wyhe eligible for benefits under identical circumstances, collaterally estops him from now finding her ineligible. Van Wyhe further urges this court to reverse a fraud determination. Because an employee who is on call away from the worksite for 32 hours per week but not working is not “performing services” under the statute, we reverse, but do not determine the fraud issue because it is not properly before the Appeals Court.

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.