This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C6-99-1957

 

Anthony C. Myers,

Relator,

 

vs.

 

Haus Specialty Mfg., Inc.,

Respondent,

 

Commissioner of Economic Security,

Respondent.

 

Filed August 8, 2000

Affirmed

Randall, Judge

 

Department of Economic Security

File No. 2444 99

 

 

John T. Anderson, John T. Anderson & Associates, Suite 411, 310 Fourth Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for relator)

 

Haus Specialty Manufacturing, Inc., P.O. Box 398, Chisago City, MN 55013 (respondent employer)

 

Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)

 

 

Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Willis, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N

RANDALL, Judge

Relator challenges the commissioner's representative's decision, which held that relator was disqualified from receiving reemployment-insurance benefits because he was terminated from employment for misconduct. Relator asserts that his actions did not constitute misconduct. We affirm.

FACTS

Respondent Haus Specialty Manufacturing, Inc. (Haus), employed relator Anthony C. Myers as a machinist from June 17, 1997, through March 31, 1999. Haus issued Myers a written warning in July 1998 for his refusal to run the "Haas" machine. He was warned that "[a] recurrence of this type of problem could result in further disciplinary actions and/or dismissal." In November 1998 he again refused to follow equipment-operation instructions. In February 1999 his supervisor informed him that his performance was below previous standards.

Haus gave Myers a handbook in February 1999 describing procedures for reporting work-related injuries and obtaining an identification card before visiting a doctor after such an injury. On March 2, 1999, Myers's supervisor asked him to work on the Haas machine. Myers stated that although he could work on the machine, he had injured himself the last time he had worked on it. The next day, Myers told his supervisor that he needed to go to the doctor but did not state that he was going to the doctor because of a work-related injury. On March 5, Myers informed a Haus representative that he had gone to the doctor because of a knee injury. Three days later, Myers met with Haus representatives and informed them that he had injured his knee approximately three weeks before while working on the Haas machine. They informed him that he must report injuries promptly and should notify Haus before going to the doctor so he could be given an identification card for worker's-compensation purposes.

On March 15, 1999, Myers asked for time off from work to pick up his father. Myers did not pick up his father but instead went to the doctor. He submitted the doctor's statement to his employer on March 16. Haus once again warned Myers that he must inform Haus before going to the doctor and should obtain an identification card for insurance purposes. Myers went to the doctor again on March 30 without giving his employer prior notification or obtaining an identification card. He informed Haus of this doctor visit the next day. Haus suspended Myers on March 31. After reviewing Myers's record, Haus terminated Myers.

Myers sought reemployment-insurance benefits after his termination. The Department of Economic Security initially determined Myers was eligible for benefits because his actions did not constitute misconduct. Haus appealed, and an evidentiary hearing was held before a reemployment-insurance judge. The reemployment-insurance judge affirmed the department's initial decision after concluding that Myers was terminated for reasons other than misconduct. Haus again appealed, and the commissioner's representative determined that Myers was discharged for misconduct that interfered with and adversely affected his employment. Therefore, the commissioner's representative reversed the reemployment-insurance judge's decision and held that Myers was disqualified from receiving reemployment-insurance benefits. Myers petitioned this court for a writ of certiorari.

D E C I S I O N

Whether an employee committed misconduct is a mixed question of fact and law. Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., 346 N.W.2d 159, 161 (Minn. 1984). The commissioner's representative's findings will be upheld if they are reasonably supported by the evidence. White v. Metropolitan Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). After the facts are established, whether the employee's behavior constituted misconduct is a question of law reviewed de novo on appeal. Monyoro v. Marriott Corp., 403 N.W.2d 325, 328 (Minn. App. 1987).

A discharged employee is disqualified from receiving reemployment-insurance benefits if the employer discharged the claimant for "misconduct that interfered with and adversely affected that employment." Minn. Stat.  268.095, subd. 4(1) (1998).[1] Misconduct is defined as

intentional conduct showing a disregard of:

(1) the employer's interest;

(2) the standards of behavior that an employer has the right to expect of the employee; or

(3) the employee's duties and obligations to the employer. Misconduct also includes negligent conduct by an employee demonstrating a substantial lack of concern for the employment. Inefficiency, inadvertence, simple unsatisfactory conduct, or poor performance as a result of inability or incapacity are not misconduct.

 

Minn. Stat. 268.095, subd. 6 (1998). The employer has the burden of demonstrating that the discharged employee committed disqualifying misconduct. Ress v. Abbott N.W. Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).

Under the last-straw doctrine, "behavior unrelated in time or tenor may, as a whole, support a determination of misconduct." Barstow v. Honeywell, Inc., 396 N.W.2d 714, 716 (Minn. App. 1986) (citations omitted); see also Flahave v. Lang Meat Packing, 343 N.W.2d 683, 687 (Minn. App. 1984) (stating that "repeated infractions of his employer's work rule" demonstrated employee's "substantialdisregard of his employer's interest and of the duties and obligations that he owed to his employer"). The final incident resulting in termination must "demonstrate[ ] conclusively the employee's utter disregard for the employer's interests." Barstow, 396 N.W.2d at 716 (quotation and citation omitted).

Haus warned Myers in July 1998 about his refusal to operate equipment, and in November 1998 he failed to follow instructions about how to operate the equipment. In March 1999, he repeatedly refused to follow Haus's specific request that he notify Haus and obtain a card for worker's-compensation purposes before visiting the doctor for a work-related injury. He conceded at the hearing that Haus informed him of this requirement after both the March 3 and March 15 doctor visits, yet he failed to notify Haus of his March 30 appointment. Additionally, he lied to Haus about his March 15 appointment, asking for time off to pick up his father rather than informing Haus that he had a doctor's appointment. See Baron v. Lens Crafters, Inc., 514 N.W.2d 305, 307-08 (Minn. App. 1994) (recognizing dishonesty connected with employment may constitute misconduct).

Myers's final refusal on March 30 to notify Haus of his doctor's appointments displayed a disregard for Haus's interests. See Barstow, 396 N.W.2d at 716 (stating final action must conclusively demonstrate "employee's utter disregard for the employer's interests" (quotation and citation omitted); see also McGowan v. Executive Express Transp. Enters., 420 N.W.2d 592, 596 (Minn. 1988) ("One in charge of a business must be allowed to expect that reasonable orders will be followed."). The commissioner's representative did not err in concluding that Myers committed disqualifying misconduct.

Affirmed.



[1] Although we recognize that Minn. Stat. 268.095 (1998) was amended in 1999, because Myers was terminated before the August 1, 1999, effective date of the amendments, we apply the 1998 statute to this case.