STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Rajinder K. Madan,
Harjit S. Madan,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed June 16, 1998
Department of Economic Security
File Nos. 7037UC97, 7039UC97, 7038UC97
Gregg M. Corwin, Karin E. Peterson, Gregg M. Corwin & Associates, 508 East Parkdale Plaza Bldg., 1660 South Hwy. 100, St. Louis Park, MN 55416 (for relators)
Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert St.,
St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Davies, Judge, and Schultz, Judge.*
*Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
Yearlong employees who receive all their wages for the year during one quarter in a single unscheduled payment are not eligible for reemployment insurance benefits.
O P I N I O N
Relators challenge the denials of their claims for reemployment insurance benefits. Because relators do not meet the statutory criteria for benefit eligibility, we affirm.
During 1996, Harjit Madan, his wife Rajinder, and their daughter Kavita were employed by a motel owned by Harjit Madan. The Madans were not paid the wages they earned during 1996 until the last quarter of the year, when each was paid wages for the full year. Harjit Madan sold his motel and the Madans, relators here, became unemployed. In July 1997, they filed claims for reemployment insurance benefits. Because relators had worked in less than the statutory minimum of two quarters during 1996, they were found ineligible for benefits. The denial of relators' claims was affirmed by a reemployment insurance judge and the commissioner's representative. Relators challenge the commissioner's denials of benefits, asserting that the denials were based on an unnecessarily strict reading of the statute.
Do relators meet the statutory eligibility requirements for reemployment insurance, having earned wages during four quarters?
Here the facts are undisputed and only a question of law remains. An appellate court reviews the commissioner's legal determinations de novo. Nerby v. Talent Partners, 518 N.W.2d 633, 635 (Minn. App. 1994).
To be eligible for reemployment benefits, workers must have wage credits during two or more quarters of the year. Minn. Stat. § 268.07, subd. 2 (a)(1) (1996). The law unambiguously defines wage credits as the amount of wages paid within the base period for insured work. Minn. Stat. § 268.04, subd. 26 (1996). Wages paid is defined, in turn, as wages that have been actually paid, credited to, or set apart for an employee so that the wages are under control of the employee. Id., subd. 25a. Any wages earned but not paid with no scheduled date of payment are considered actually paid on the last day an employee works before employment is terminated. Id.
In this case, the key phrase of the statute is with no scheduled date of payment, which describes the relators' circumstances. Their wages, by their own admission, had no scheduled date of payment and were paid only during the fourth quarter of 1996. According to the terms of the statute, relators were paid in the fourth quarter of 1996 and thus have wage credits only during that fourth quarter. The statute is clear and unambiguous on this point. Appellate courts may not re-write unambiguous statutes. Northern States Power Co. v. Commissioner of Revenue, 571 N.W.2d 573, 575 (Minn. 1997) (citing Minn. Stat. § 645.16 (1996)); Khabani v. Red Owl Stores, 392 N.W.2d 698, 700 (Minn. App. 1986) (refusing to interpret reemployment insurance statute where provision was unambiguous).
Relators do not meet the requirements for reemployment insurance eligibility.
The commissioner's representative did not err when he determined that relators were ineligible for reemployment insurance; they did not have wage credits during at least two quarters of 1996.