This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Bruce E. Brennan,
The Sportsman’s Guide,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed February 6, 2001
Department of Economic Security
File No. 194500
David Y. Trevor, Natalie Wyatt-Brown, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Pillsbury Center South, 220 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402-1498 (for relator)
The Sportsman’s Guide, 411 Farwell Avenue, South St. Paul, MN 55075 (respondent)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator Bruce E. Brennan challenges the decision of the commissioner’s representative that he was not entitled to unemployment benefits because he did not report for work, failed to provide medical documentation, and did not report his absences in a timely fashion. We affirm.
An employee discharged for misconduct is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (2000). A determination by the commissioner of employee misconduct is a mixed question of fact and law. Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., 346 N.W.2d 159, 161 (Minn. 1984). We review the findings of the commissioner’s representative in the light most favorable to the decision, and must affirm those findings if there is evidence in the record that reasonably tends to sustain them. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
Relator disputes the finding of the commissioner’s representative that he was dismissed for failing to provide medical documentation. Relator contends this finding is erroneous because the employer did not cite this as a reason for his termination. We disagree. Two letters from the employer to the Department of Economic Security dated January 24, and February 1, 2000, reference relator’s failure to provide medical documentation as a reason for his termination. In addition, the employer’s human resources representative testified in detail about her request for medical documentation, and relator’s failure to keep scheduled appointments and call on the specified days. We thus conclude that the finding is supported by the evidence.
Relator also challenges the conclusion of the commissioner’s representative that his conduct constituted misconduct. The representative’s conclusions of law, unlike its findings of fact, do not similarly bind this court. McGowan v. Executive Express Transp. Enters., Inc., 420 N.W.2d 592, 594 (Minn. 1988). The declared policy of the law provides that benefits extend only to persons unemployed through no fault of their own. Auger v. Gillette Co., 303 N.W.2d 255, 257 (Minn. 1981). An employee’s “knowing violation of an employer’s policies, rules, or reasonable requests constitutes misconduct.” Montgomery v. F & M Marquette Nat’l Bank, 384 N.W.2d 602, 604 (Minn. App. 1986) (citations omitted), review denied (Minn. June 13, 1986).
Relator contends his absence was due to serious illness. An individual is not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if he is absent “because of illness or injury with proper notice to the employer.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(b) (2000). Relator, a left leg amputee, experienced problems after he began using a prosthesis. He exhausted his Family Medical Leave Act time by December 15, 1999. The employer granted relator’s requests for additional leave provided he supply medical documentation and return or call on specified days. He was specifically told on December 17 that he needed to provide documentation authorizing his time off. He failed to do so and the employer terminated relator when relator did not report to work on January 5, 2000.
The record indicates that although relator had serious medical problems that may have prevented him from working, his problems did not prevent him from using a telephone or getting to other destinations during this time. But, on several occasions he failed to call in or keep scheduled appointments with the employer to apprise it of his situation. Moreover, it is reasonable for an employer to “expect an employee to keep it apprised of his whereabouts. Without this information, an employer cannot adequately plan its staffing needs.” Winkler v. Park Refuse Serv., Inc., 361 N.W.2d 120, 123 (Minn. App. 1985).
Relator claims the employer told him it did not matter if he provided the requested medical documentation; he would be fired regardless. He contends he was not able to fully develop this point at the hearing because he was unrepresented. But the record indicates the judge questioned relator on this issue. Relator first testified that he gave the documentation to the employer. But he was referring to documentation dated more than one month after his termination. Relator then testified that he did not provide the documentation because the employer did not want it. When the employer’s human resources representative was asked by the judge if it was possible that relator did not understand that he was required to provide the documentation, she testified that she did not believe there was a misunderstanding because relator had provided required documentation in the past.
We conclude that on this record the commissioner’s representative properly determined that relator’s actions did not constitute proper notice and documentation regarding his continued absence. Because the findings of fact are supported by the evidence, and because the findings support the conclusion of employee misconduct, we affirm the decision of the commissioner’s representative.