This opinion will be unpublished and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
Tad A. Brezinsky,
Northland Funeral Home Inc.,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Affirmed; motion denied
Department of Economic Security
File No. 657600
Tad Brezinsky, Jason Brezinsky, 31 Minnesota Avenue South, Aitkin, MN 56431 (pro se relators)
Chad McKenney, Bonnie L. Prawer, Donohue McKenney & Harlan, Ltd., 990 Lumber Exchange Building, Ten South Fifth Street, Minneapolis MN 55402 (for respondent Northland Funeral Home)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Pro se relators Tad Brezinsky and Jason Brezinsky appeal the Commissioner of Economic Security’s decision disqualifying them from unemployment benefits due to misconduct discharges, contending that the evidence does not reasonably support the commissioner’s representative’s findings that relators subjected their employer to a pattern of verbal abuse and refused to provide business records to their employer.
The former owner of Northland Funeral Home, Michael Brezinsky, died in May 1999. His will devised ownership to Marlys Brezinsky, with a provision that relators, employees of Northland and sons of the former owner, could purchase the business at a discount. The parties dispute the facts of numerous events that occurred over the next 12 months, but the parties never reached an agreement on the sale.
Marlys Brezinsky testified that when she would go to Northland to ask relators any questions, they would swear at her. She also testified that relators never allowed her to see Northland’s business records despite her repeated requests for access to the records. Marlys Brezinsky reported especially abusive and interfering behavior on May 13, 2000, when she and a friend attempted to review business records. Relators, on the other hand, testified that they never swore at Marlys Brezinsky. Jason Brezinsky further testified that Marlys Brezinsky had full access to the records and that she looked at them periodically.
After Marlys Brezinsky discharged relators in July 2000, they sought unemployment benefits. The Department of Economic Security initially denied benefits for Jason Brezinsky and granted benefits to Tad Brezinsky. An unemployment law judge reversed the denial of benefits for Jason Brezinsky and affirmed the granting of benefits to Tad Brezinsky. This decision focused solely on events of May 13, 2000, finding that a court order limited Marlys Brezinsky’s access to business records on that day and also finding that the decision to terminate relators had already occurred by that time. The commissioner’s representative, making no comment on the significance of events on May 13, 2000, reversed both decisions of the unemployment judge, explaining that disqualifying misconduct was established by evidence of earlier wrongdoing. Relators dispute the findings that underlie this conclusion.
On appeal, the court must view the commissioner’s representative’s factual findings in the light most favorable to the decision and will not disturb those findings if evidence in the record reasonably tends to sustain them. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996). Whether an employee’s acts constitute misconduct, however, is a question of law on which a reviewing court remains “free to exercise its independent judgment.” Id. (citation omitted).
An employee is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if discharged for employment misconduct. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (2000). Employment misconduct includes
any intentional conduct, on the job or off the job, that disregards the standards of behavior that an employer has the right to expect of the employee or disregards the employee’s duties and obligations to the employer.
The commissioner’s representative found that relators (1) frequently swore at Marlys Brezinsky and (2) denied her, as owner, a role in the business by refusing to heed her repeated requests for access to Northland’s business records. A pattern of verbal abuse shows a disregard of the “standards of behavior that an employer has the right to expect” from employees. See id. Denial of ownership rights, including access to business records, shows a disregard of “the employer’s interest” as well as their “duties and obligations to the employer.” See id.
Marlys Brezinsky’s testimony, which is part of the record, provides support for the representative’s findings. Although relators offered their own testimony and argue that her testimony was false, the findings indicate that the commissioner’s representative found Marlys Brezinsky’s testimony more credible than theirs. When credibility and conflicting evidence are issues, this court defers to the commissioner’s ability to weigh the evidence. Whitehead v. Moonlight Nursing Care, Inc., 529 N.W.2d 350, 352 (Minn. App. 1995). Given these findings, the commissioner’s representative did not err in determining that relators were discharged for employment misconduct; relators confine their appeal to a dispute on the facts and do not challenge this conclusion.
Finally, relators have moved to strike Northland’s brief on the ground that its appendix contained a copy of this court’s unpublished opinion in a related probate hearing. Because we have not considered this material in our review of the case, the issue is moot and we deny the motion to strike.
Affirmed; motion denied.