This opinion will be unpublished and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
Jeffrey L. Verdoorn,
Green Tree Financial,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed October 10, 2000
Department of Economic Security
Agency File No. 379199
Jeffrey L. Verdoorn, 2300 Ridge Drive, #210, St. Louis Park, MN 55416 (appellant pro se)
Bill R. Johnson, Senior Counsel, Conseco Finance Servicing Corp., 332 Minnesota Street, Suite 520, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent employer)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
Respondent employer terminated relator employee for using his own money to make it appear that debtors from whom relator was to collect payments had made those payments themselves. The commissioner's representative determined that relator was discharged for misconduct and disqualified him from receiving benefits. Because we find evidentiary support for that determination, we affirm.
Relator Jeffrey Verdoorn was employed as an account representative by respondent Green Tree Financial Services, now known as Conesco Finance Servicing Corp. Respondent’s “New Employee Welcome Booklet,” which relator signed, stated that dishonesty and falsification of the company’s records could result in termination.
One of relator’s job duties was inducing debtors of respondent’s clients to make payments and keep their accounts current. Like other account representatives, relator had to report monthly whether each account was current or delinquent. To meet their production goals, account representatives sought to report a low number of delinquent accounts.
Some of relator’s accounts were delinquent by only a few dollars. In order to reduce the number of his delinquent accounts, relator purchased money orders in the amounts of these delinquencies and made the payments himself, thus enhancing the appearance of his job performance. When respondent discovered this, it terminated relator for dishonesty and falsification of company records.
Relator applied for reemployment compensation. The Department of Economic Security determined that he was disqualified because he had been discharged for misconduct. Relator appealed that determination and, after a hearing, a reemployment compensation judge found that relator was discharged for misconduct. Relator again appealed, and the commissioner’s representative also decided that relator was discharged for misconduct. Relator challenges that determination.
D E C I S I O N
The commissioner’s decision that an employee is disqualified for reasons of misconduct involves a mixed question of fact and law. Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., 346 N.W.2d 159, 161 (Minn. 1984). A reviewing court will affirm if the findings of fact “are not without support in the evidence” and if “the conclusion on those facts is not contrary to the statutory mandate.” Id.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6 (1998), defines misconduct as “intentional conduct showing a disregard of * * * the standards of behavior that an employer has the right to expect of the employee.” The commissioner’s representative found that relator committed misconduct when he intentionally misled or deceived respondent by using his own money to pay debtors’ accounts so those accounts would not be considered delinquent.
Evidence in the form of relator’s own testimony supports the finding. Relator testified that (1) he knew his job was to induce clients’ debtors topay theiraccounts, not to pay them himself; (2) he procured money orders to pay the accounts; (3) he did not contact the debtors to seek payment; (4) he knew that by entering into his computer records the amounts he paid, he was representing that the debtors were keeping their accounts current; and (5) he did not record the source of the money orders but merely entered them into the accounts so theaccounts would no longer be delinquent.
Misleading or deceiving an employer is misconduct for unemployment compensation purposes. Baron v. Lens Crafters, Inc., 514 N.W.2d 305, 308 (Minn. App. 1994) (holding that employee who had not trained all store managers but told his employer that he had done so committed misconduct). Here, respondent stated in its booklet that dishonesty or falsification of company records could be a cause for termination, but even without such a statement, maintaining the integrity of company records is within “standards of behavior that an employer has the right to expect of the employee.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6.
Relator also argues that what he did was common practice. His supervisor, however, testified that only one other instance of this conduct was discovered, and the employee responsible for it was also terminated. Moreover, even if relator’s argument is true, “[v]iolation of an employer’s rules by other employees is not a valid defense to a claim of misconduct.” Dean v. Allied Aviation Fueling Co., 381 N.W.2d 80, 83 (Minn. App. 1986).
The finding that relator committed misconduct within the meaning of reemployment compensation law is supported by the evidence.