This opinion will be unpublished and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
Paul L. Buresh,
Albinson Reprographics LLC,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed March 19, 2002
Paul L. Buresh, 2807 Irving Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411-1228 (pro se relator)
Albinson Reprographics, LLC, Attn: Kim Rengo, 1401 Glenwood Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405 (respondent); and
Philip B. Byrne, Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Harten , Presiding Judge, Anderson, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
G. BARRY ANDERSON, Judge.
Relator’s employment was terminated and he applied for unemployment benefits. The Department of Economic Security denied relator unemployment benefits because it found that relator was discharged for employment misconduct. An unemployment law judge affirmed the Department’s decision to deny relator benefits and found that relator’s conduct constituted an intentional disregard of the standards of behavior which an employer has a right to expect from its employees. The commissioner’s representative affirmed the unemployment law judge’s decision and found that relator was discharged for using foul and abusive language and for verbally harassing a co-worker. We affirm.
Relator has admitted that he used foul and abusive language against a co-worker and noted that on the day he was discharged he called the co-worker a “jack-ass brat,” and on at least one previous occasion called him a “son of a bitch.”
Relator’s employer’s company handbook contains an employee code of conduct which makes termination of employment an option if an employee “us[es] foul or abusive language or mak[es] false or malicious statements concerning any employee.”
Relator asserts vague and incoherent allegations of a “watch concept,” “job interference,” “misrepresentation,” “age discrimination,” and alleges that the co-worker called him, among other things, “dumb and stupid.” Relator’s arguments simply restate his arguments before the unemployment law judge.
Decisions of the commissioner’s representative are afforded particular deference. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). The commissioner’s representative’s factual findings 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 commissioner’s representative’s determination that an employee is disqualified for reasons of misconduct is a mixed question of fact and law. Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., 346 N.W.2d 159, 161 (Minn. 1984). We will affirm if the findings of fact “are not without support in the evidence” and if “the conclusion on those facts is not contrary to the statutory mandate.” Id. Therefore, whether an employee’s acts constitute misconduct is a question of law upon which we remain free to exercise our independent judgment. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
A discharged employee may be denied unemployment benefits if the employee is discharged for misconduct. Misconduct is defined as
any intentional conduct * * * that disregards the standards of behavior than an employer has the right to expect of the employee or disregards the employee’s duties and obligations to the employer.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(1) (2000).
The commissioner’s representative found that (1) relator was orally warned in October and November 2000 about swearing at a co-worker and for not acting as a team player; (2) relator again swore at the co-worker in December 2000 and received a written warning; (3) relator directed foul and abusive language at the co-worker approximately one week before his discharge; and (4) relator, on the day of his discharge, called the co-worker a “jack-ass brat.” The commissioner’s representative therefore found that relator was discharged for employment misconduct.
We conclude that the record reasonably tends to sustain the commissioner’s representative’s factual findings and that relator’s use of foul and abusive language on several occasions constituted misconduct as a matter of law.
We note that relator’s arguments are unsupported by legal analysis or citation and, therefore, can be disregarded. Ganguli v. Univ. of Minn., 512 N.W.2d 918, 919 n.1 (Minn. App. 1994). We also generally decline to reach issues in the absence of adequate briefing. State, Dep’t of Labor & Indus. v. Wintz Parcel Drivers, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 480, 480 (Minn. 1997). We have decided, however, to address this appeal in the interest of justice. Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.04.
First, appellant admitted before the unemployment law judge that he used foul and abusive language towards a co-worker, specifically calling the co-worker a “son of a bitch” and a “jack-ass brat.” Therefore, the record reasonably tends to sustain the commissioner’s representative’s factual findings.
Second, relator’s use of profanity and foul and abusive language, on several occasions, constituted misconduct as a matter of law. The use of such language “disregards the standards of behavior that an employer has the right to expect of [an] employee [and] disregards the employee’s duties and obligations to the employer.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(1); see also Isse v. Alamo Rent-A-Car, 590 N.W.2d 137, 140 (Minn. App. 1999) (even isolated incident, after the 1997 amendment to the definition of misconduct, can constitute a disregard for an employer’s expected employee behavior), review denied (Minn. Apr. 20, 1999); Cavalier v. C. Mach. Co., 404 N.W.2d 391, 394 (Minn. App. 1987) (continuing pattern of misconduct culminating by employee’s “use of obscene language [as] a ‘last straw,’ is sufficient to disqualify [the employee] from the receipt of unemployment benefits”); Sivertson v. Sims Sec., Inc., 390 N.W.2d 868, 871 (Minn. App. 1986) (noting that violations of an employer’s policies can constitute misconduct), review denied (Minn. Aug. 20, 1986).
Appellant’s arguments that his employer singled him out for a “watch concept” and selectively enforced work place rules against him are not relevant. See Sivertson, 390 N.W.2d at 871 (“The sole question before this court is whether [a rules violation] constitute[s] misconduct. Whether or not other employees violated those same rules and were disciplined or discharged is not relevant * * * .” (citation omitted)).
The employer’s standards of behavior, which prohibit profanity and foul and abusive language, were clearly outlined in the employer’s company handbook and are generally implied in a civilized work place. Relator chose to ignore and violate these standards. We affirm.