This opinion will be unpublished and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

C7-00-1537

 

 

Staci Grosfield,

Relator,

 

vs.

 

Tool Rental Inc.,

Respondent,

 

Commissioner of Economic Security,

Respondent.

 

 

Filed April 17, 2001

Affirmed

Lansing, Judge

 

Department of Economic Security

File No. 393799

 

Staci Grosfield, 1903 Delton Avenue Northwest, Apt. W202, Bemidji, MN 56601-4436 (pro se relator)

 

Tool Rental Inc., c/o Bemidji Rental Sales, 2015 Highway Avenue Northwest, Bemidji, MN 56601 (respondent employer)

 

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

 

            Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

LANSING, Judge

            Staci Grosfield appeals the Commissioner of Economic Security’s determination that she is ineligible for reemployment compensation benefits because she was unavailable for work within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 1(2) (Supp. 1999).  The commissioner’s factual finding that Grosfield was unavailable for work has adequate support in the record, and we affirm.

FACTS

            Tool Rental, Inc., terminated Staci Grosfield’s employment on April 23,1999.  Grosfield applied for reemployment compensation with an effective date of April 25, 1999.  On August 24, 1999, she began attending college full-time at Bemidji State University.  Grosfield attended classes 12 to 15 hours a week, approximately three hours each day, Monday through Friday.

The Department of Economic Security initially determined that Grosfield was ineligible for reemployment compensation benefits because she was not available for work during the time that she attended college classes full-time.  Grosfield appealed and, after a hearing, a reemployment compensation judge modified the decision, finding her eligible for benefits.  Grosfield’s former employer, Tool Rental, appealed and the commissioner’s representative remanded the case for rehearing. 

On rehearing before the reemployment compensation judge who conducted the initial hearing, Grosfield was found ineligible for benefits from August 24, 1999, to April 22, 2000.  Grosfield appealed the ineligibility determination, and the commissioner’s representative affirmed.  Grosfield now appeals the commissioner’s determination, contending that her testimony established that she was available for work.

D E C I S I O N

A claimant for reemployment benefits may further his or her education while unemployed and still receive benefits if the claimant meets the statutory requirements for eligibility and the tests for availability.  Goodman v. Minnesota Dep’t of Employment Servs., 312 Minn. 551, 552, 255 N.W.2d 222, 223 (1977).  “To be considered ‘available for employment,’ a student must be willing to quit school to accept employment that would conflict with school attendance.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 15(b) (Supp. 1999).  The student’s willingness to accept employment that conflicts with his or her college schedule is a factual determination for the commissioner to make.  Goodman, 312 Minn. at 553, 255 N.W.2d at 223.  Appellate courts review the commissioner’s factual findings in the light most favorable to the decision and affirm if the record provides any evidence reasonably tending to support a decision that turns on a factual determination.  Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996). 

            The commissioner’s representative found that from August 27, 1999, when she started attending college, until April 22, 2000, the date of the expiration of her benefit year, Grosfield was not willing to quit her college program to accept suitable full-time employment.  The record contains some evidence that Grosfield was not willing to quit attending college to accept a full-time job that conflicted with her class schedule.  On a department form Grosfield completed in October 1999, she answered “no” to the question “[a]re you willing to quit school, if necessary, to accept a suitable full-time job offered to you?”  She also indicated that she was seeking any “available” work and was willing to work Monday through Friday, afternoons and evenings.  An applicant who imposes restrictions on the hours of the day or days of the week that he or she is willing to work is not available for employment.  Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 15(d) (Supp. 1999).

Although Grosfield testified in both hearings before the reemployment compensation judge that she would be willing to quit attending college classes to take a full-time job, the commissioner’s representative found that testimony less than credible, stating that Grosfield’s responses indicating that she would leave school to work full-time were “only given after she was well aware that if she said no, she would be denied benefits.”   The commissioner’s representative specifically found that Grosfield’s initial statements were the accurate statements describing her position and that “she provided nothing which would indicate her reason for changing her position.”

The record contains conflicting evidence and could support a determination either that Grosfield was willing or unwilling to forego her current educational program and accept full-time employment.  The commissioner resolved the conflicting statements by making a credibility assessment against Grosfield’s explanation of her initial comments.  We are required to defer to the commissioner’s credibility determination.  Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995).

The record contains sufficient evidence to support the commissioner’s representative’s conclusion that Grosfield was ineligible for reemployment compensation benefits because she was unavailable for work within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 1(2). 

Affirmed.