This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Paul M. Coe,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Department of Economic Security
File No. 29400
Carl M. Warren, Attorney, Amy Yolanda Castillo, Certified Student Attorney, University of Minnesota, Civil Practice Clinic, 190 Law Center, 229 – 29th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (for relator)
Steven F. Mattaini, Charlene Kay Feenstra, Heacox, Hartman, Mattaini, Koshmrl, Cosgriff & Johnson, P.A., 340 Cedar Street, Suite 1000, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Bystrom Precision)
Kent E. Todd, Commissioner of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge
Relator Paul Coe appeals from a determination by the Commissioner of Economic Security’s representative (the commissioner’s representative) that he was discharged for misconduct and thus disqualified from receiving reemployment compensation benefits. Because we find no error in the commissioner’s representative’s conclusion that relator was discharged for misconduct, we affirm.
From March 29, 1999, through November 30, 1999, Bystrom Precision Industries, Inc. (BPI), employed relator Paul Coe as a machinist and second-shift supervisor. BPI required all its employees to follow a quality assurance plan. The plan specifies the dimensions and inspection of every part produced. During the production process, a print of the part being produced is compared against the plan. The plan also requires the operator to make hourly measurements and inspections for defects on each part produced. The operator then records the measurements on a “Target Control Sheet.” If the operator suspects a part is non-compliant, the part must be “yellow-tagged” for further inspection by a quality-assurance leader.
On November 29, 1999, relator mistakenly set a tool for the production of a spindle. During the set-up, relator noticed that a groove, or chamfer, previously in place for the production of the spindle was missing, but he did not crosscheck the change against the plan. During each of the hourly inspections, relator made an incorrect measurement, recorded it on the target control sheet, and failed to double-check his measurement with the schematic. He made the same mismeasurement throughout the shift. Relator testified that the mismeasurement was an inadvertent error he made by measuring repeatedly from the wrong point. Because of the mistake, relator produced 200 nonconforming parts. BPI determined that relator was aware of the importance of this particular contract and that the error threatened the contract. Therefore, BPI terminated him on November 30.
Relator’s application for reemployment compensation benefits was denied on the basis that he had been discharged for misconduct. On appeal, a reemployment compensation judge concluded that relator did his job to the best of his ability and “did not intentionally falsify any documents or violate any policy,” and that he was, therefore, qualified to receive reemployment compensation benefits.
On appeal the commissioner’s representative reversed and denied relator benefits. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
This court’s review in economic security cases is narrow. McGowan v. Executive Express Transp. Enters., 420 N.W.2d 592, 594 (Minn. 1988). When reviewing a decision of the commissioner’s representative, we consider whether there is reasonable support in the evidence to sustain the decision. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). We will not disturb the findings of the commissioner’s representative when, viewed in the light most favorable to the decision, the findings are reasonably supported by the evidence. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996); Ress v. Abbott NW Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
An employee who is discharged for misconduct is disqualified from receiving reemployment compensation benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (Supp. 1999). Whether an employee committed acts of disqualifying misconduct is a mixed question of fact and law. Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., 346 N.W.2d 159, 161 (Minn. 1984).
The determination whether the employee committed a particular act or acts is a question of fact. Tilseth v. Midwest Lumber Co., 295 Minn. 372, 375, 204 N.W.2d 644, 645-46 (1973); Scheunemann v. Radisson S. Hotel, 562 N.W.2d 32, 34 (Minn. App. 1997). Whether the acts constitute misconduct is a question of law on which this court is “free to exercise its independent judgment.” Ress, 448 N.W.2d at 523.
Relator argues that the commissioner’s representative erred in finding that he did not follow the standard operating procedures and that he knowingly violated BPI’s quality assurance policies. The record demonstrates that relator (1) realized a part that had been previously in place was not present during this run of the spindle and failed to investigate the problem; (2) failed to double-check his measurements against the quality assurance plan; and (3) failed to double-check the target control sheet with the quality assurance plan. In his testimony, relator admitted his deviations from the plan. Given these facts and the scope of the review, we conclude the evidence supports the commissioner’s representative’s findings of fact.
Having found the commissioner’s representative’s findings of fact are reasonably supported by the record, we next consider whether the facts constitute disqualifying misconduct as a matter of law. Employment misconduct includes “negligent or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job, that demonstrates a substantial lack of concern for the employment.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(a)(2) (Supp. 1999). Here, the findings reveal conduct demonstrating “a substantial lack of concern for the employment.” See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(a)(2). An employer has a right to expect that its employees will abide by reasonable instructions and directions. McGowan, 420 N.W.2d at 596. Even “[a] single incident where an employee deliberately chooses a course of action adverse to the employer can constitute misconduct.” Ress, 448 N.W.2d at 524 (citation omitted). The record reveals that the relator was aware of how important the contract was to his employer, yet he disregarded quality control guidelines. Relator was also aware of the accuracy necessary in the production of these parts and the previous problems BPI had experienced with satisfying this customer. Relator admitted to disregarding parts of the plan. A knowing violation of an employer’s policies or rules constitutes misconduct. See Montgomery v. F&M Marquette Nat. Bank, 384 N.W.2d 602, 604 (Minn. App. 1986) (not properly processing $28,000 in overdrafts is misconduct), review denied (Minn. June 13, 1986); Sivertson v. Sims Sec., Inc., 390 N.W.2d 868, 871 (Minn. App. 1986) (finding that leaving post rather than waiting for replacement in violation of employer policy is employment misconduct); Ruzynski v. Cub Foods, Inc., 378 N.W.2d 660, 663 (Minn. App. 1985) (holding that falsifying a time card and knowingly violating employer’s time card policy is misconduct). Because relator knowingly failed to follow his employer’s reasonable instructions regarding the quality control plan, we find that he committed employment misconduct.
Finally, relator contends that the commissioner’s representative erred when she did not explain why she deviated from the reemployment compensation judge’s findings on credibility. But nothing in the decisions of either the reemployment compensation judge or the commissioner’s representative suggests that it was based on witness credibility. Because there were no credibility determinations, this argument is without merit.