This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).






Robert W. VanDoran,





Coca-Cola of the Black Hills,



Commissioner of Economic Security,



Filed April 17, 2001


Shumaker, Judge


Department of Economic Security

File No. 4210 00


Mark G. Stephenson, Stephenson & Sutcliffe, P.A., 1635 Greenview Drive Southwest, Rochester, MN 55902 (for relator)


Coca-Cola of the Black Hills, 1250 Coca-Cola Lane, Rapid City, SD 55772 (pro se respondent/employer)


Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN (for respondent-commissioner)


            Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Foley, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N




            Relator seeks review of the commissioner’s representative’s determination that respondent employer discharged relator for misconduct.  Because the evidence supports the finding that relator acted in deliberate disregard of a clear duty to his employer, we affirm.


            Relator Robert W. VanDoran worked as a plant superintendent for respondent Coca-Cola of the Black Hills from November 1, 1999, through March 28, 2000, when he was terminated for alleged misconduct.

            Although Coca-Cola cited three reasons for VanDoran’s discharge, the most serious involved his disregard of a directive not to produce water until a positive-airflow system had been installed in the water production room at the plant.

            VanDoran testified that when he began his employment at Coca-Cola, his supervisor told him that under no circumstances was he to run out of water in the plant.  By March 21, 2000, Coca-Cola had nearly completed the construction of a new room for bottling water; the room needed only the installation of a positive-airflow system to be operable.

            On March 21, Coca-Cola’s vice-present instructed VanDoran not to produce water in the new room until the new airflow system had been installed.  When VanDoran learned that the plant had run out of water, he ordered water production in the new room despite the lack of a positive-airflow system.

            There was evidence that VanDoran had been told prior to March 21 that he should increase water production to ensure the availability of sufficient water during the anticipated shutdown for the installation of the airflow system.  There was also evidence that when the vice-president directed that there be no water production until the airflow system was installed, he was aware that there was insufficient water to meet bottling requirements and he issued the directive nevertheless.

            After his termination, VanDoran appealed and an unemployment law judge found that he had not committed misconduct.  The commissioner’s representative reversed that finding and the matter is before us on a writ of certiorari.


            The issue before us is whether VanDoran was discharged for misconduct.  If he was, he is disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (2000).  We are required to review the findings of the commissioner’s representative in the light most favorable to the decision and to determine whether there is evidence that reasonably tends to sustain that decision.  Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996); Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).

            Employment misconduct includes “intentional conduct * * * that * * * disregards the employee’s duties and obligations to the employer * * *.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(a)(1) (2000).

            When VanDoran decided to run water without the airflow system in place he knew he was violating the vice-president’s directive.  He felt, however, that running the water would be in the employer’s best interests because he believed a truck was waiting for a delivery and that the new room was safe even without the positive-airflow system. Furthermore, he felt caught in a dilemma because of the previous order by the employer that he was not ever to run out of water.

            The purpose of the new airflow system was to protect against contamination of the product.  Despite VanDoran’s best intentions, he deliberately disregarded a clear duty imposed by his employer and ostensibly risked contamination of the product.  The determination by the commissioner’s representative that Coca-Cola terminated VanDoran for misconduct is supported by the evidence.


* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. Art. VI,  § 10.