This opinion will be unpublished and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
Jerome T. Franssen,
Precision Design, Inc.,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Department of Economic Security
File No. 672500
Jerome T. Franssen, 95 White Pine Road, Circle Pines, MN 55014 (pro se relator)
Precision Design, Inc., 15 Tenth Avenue South, #102, Hopkins, MN 55343 (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, Peterson, Judge, and Lindberg, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Respondent Precision Design, Inc., a temporary staffing company, offered relator Jerome T. Franssen, a mechanical designer, a position with Forward Technologies Industries, Inc., in Plymouth, Minnesota. Relator rejected this offer of employment claiming the commute was too long. Relator challenges the determination of the commissioner’s representative that a commute of 27 miles from relator’s home to work did not constitute good cause to refuse the offer of employment, and therefore relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. We affirm.
On appeal, a reviewing court must examine the decision of the commissioner’s representative, rather than that of the unemployment insurance judge. Kalberg v. Park & Recreation Bd., 563 N.W.2d 275, 276 (Minn. App. 1997). Decisions of the commissioner’s representative are accorded particular deference. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). The factual findings of the commissioner’s representative are viewed in the light most favorable to the decision and are not disturbed if evidence in the record reasonably tends to sustain them. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996). The ultimate determination of whether an employee is properly disqualified from receiving benefits is a question of law, subject to de novo review. Id.
A. Suitable Employment
Relator contends he should not be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because respondent’s offer of employment was unsuitable. We disagree. An applicant is disqualified from unemployment benefits if, without good cause, he or she “fail[s] to accept suitable employment when offered.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 8(a)(2) (2000). Suitable employment means “employment in the applicant’s labor market area that is reasonably related to the applicant’s qualifications.” Minn. Stat. § 268.035, subd. 23a(a) (2000). In determining whether employment is suitable for an applicant, the commissioner must consider
the degree of risk involved to the health and safety, physical fitness, prior training, experience, length of unemployment, prospects for securing employment in the applicant’s customary occupation, and the distance of the employment from the applicant’s residence.
Id. (emphasis added). “[P]rimary consideration,” however,
shall be given to the temporary or permanent nature of the applicant’s separation from employment and whether the applicant has favorable prospects of finding employment in the applicant’s usual or customary occupation at the applicant’s past wage level within a reasonable period of time.
Id., subd. 23a(b) (2000). Here, in determining that the position offered to relator was suitable the commissioner’s representative stated:
The distance here is not unreasonable, especially in light of the wage level. * * * In this type of position and at this wage level an applicant should be willing to commute to most locations throughout the metropolitan area.
We accord deference to the determination of the commissioner’s representative that a commute of 27 miles is not unreasonable, particularly since this court has stated that a commute of 22 miles is not unreasonable. See Preiss v. Commissioner of Economic Security, 347 N.W.2d 74, 76 (Minn. App. 1984) (finding a commute of 22 miles reasonable where applicant lived in an area where employment opportunities were not common). Moreover, we reject relator’s claim that the distance from his residence to Forward Technologies is 35 miles and that the determination of the commissioner’s representative was erroneous. See Lolling, 545 N.W.2d at 377 (stating that factual findings of a commissioner’s representative will not be disturbed if evidence in the record reasonably sustains them).
Relator also contends he should not have had to accept respondent’s offer of employment because his job history indicates that his unemployment was temporary in nature, and the prospects of finding employment in his field and at past wage levels were high. We disagree. Although it appears likely that relator had prospects of finding other employment in his field, such a favorable employment outlook does not negate the fact that respondent’s offer of employment was within relator’s labor market, and thus was suitable. See Preiss, 347 N.W.2d at 76.
Finally, relator contends that he made the distance and driving time from his residence a condition of employment and, therefore, he should not be disqualified for rejecting respondent’s offer of employment. We disagree. There is nothing in the record supporting relator’s contention that he limited the distance he would commute to work.
B. Good Cause
Once it has been determined that an applicant has rejected an offer of suitable employment, the trier of fact must determine whether relator had good cause to reject the offer. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 8 (2000). An applicant may establish “good cause” if
(1) the applicant is employed in other suitable employment;
(2) the applicant is in reemployment assistance training;
(3) the applicant formerly worked for the employer and the loss of employment occurred prior to the commencement of a labor dispute, was permanent or for an indefinite period, and the applicant failed to apply for or accept the employment because a labor dispute was in progress at the establishment; or
(4) the applicant formerly worked for the employer and quit that employment because of a good reason caused by the employer.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 8(b) (2000). Here, relator rejected the offer of employment solely because it was too far from his residence. This reason does not constitute “good cause” within the definition of section 268.095, subdivision 8(b).
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.