This opinion will be unpublished and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
Deborah C. Sipe,
Ability Building Center, Inc.,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed July 9, 2002
Department of Economic Security
File No. 813101
Deborah C. Sipe, 4436 East Edgewood Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85206 (pro se relator)
Ability Building Center, Inc., c/o Sheakley Uniservice, Inc., 244 Juniper Lane, Bolingbrook, IL 60440 (respondent)
Philip B. Byrne, Department of Economic Security, 390 N. Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent commissioner)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Foley, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator challenges the decision of the commissioner’s representative that she was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she was discharged for misconduct. Because (1) relator intentionally engaged in misconduct by failing to follow the employer’s policies regarding absences from work and by taking time off without approval, (2) the relevant findings of fact were not clearly erroneous, and (3) relator was given a fair hearing, we affirm.
Respondent Ability Building Center, Inc., operates a training and rehabilitation program for people with mental retardation. Relator Deborah C. Sipe was employed as a work-site supervisor, whose duties included training and supervising clients at their work sites. As Sipe knew, if she was going to miss work, Ability’s procedure required her to report her absence to the coordinator on call.
On Monday, June 4, 2001, a day on which she was not scheduled to work, Sipe called a co-worker and told her that, due to personal problems, Sipe would be unable to work that week. She asked the co-worker to inform Ability. Although the co-worker did so, she also called Sipe back later that day and told her that their supervisor had said that Sipe must report her planned absence to the coordinator on call. Sipe did not do so. She testified at the hearing that because of her personal problems, she was unable to make any additional calls.
On Tuesday, Sipe did not report to her work site as scheduled. The coordinator on call telephoned Sipe at her home that morning to ask why she was not at work and told Sipe that she had to report her absence to the coordinator on call. Sipe responded that the telephone conversation that they were having constituted such a report. When the coordinator asked Sipe the reason for her absence, Sipe stated that it was for personal reasons that she did not wish to disclose. The coordinator told Sipe that she could not have the time off from work; Sipe responded that she would be unable to report to work.
On Wednesday evening, Sipe called her supervisor to talk to her regarding returning to work the following day. The supervisor told Sipe that she would need to discuss the situation with Ability’s program manager because he was looking for a replacement for Sipe. Sipe did not call the manager and did not report to work on Thursday.
On Friday morning, the program manager called Sipe twice to discuss the situation. The parties agree that after the second conversation, Sipe was no longer employed by Ability.
Sipe applied to the Department of Economic Security for unemployment benefits, and the department determined that she was qualified to receive benefits. Ability appealed, and a hearing was held before an unemployment-law judge. The judge ruled that Sipe was not qualified to receive benefits because she had been discharged for misconduct. Sipe sought review from the commissioner’s representative, who affirmed the unemployment-law judge. Sipe then filed this certiorari appeal.
When an appellate court reviews a decision of the commissioner’s representative, the court will not reverse findings of fact if they are reasonably supported by the evidence. Schmidgall v. FilmTec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002). Questions of law are reviewed de novo. Markel v. City of Circle Pines, 479 N.W.2d 382, 384 (Minn. 1992). The determination of whether an employee engaged in disqualifying misconduct is a mixed question of fact and law. Schmidgall, 644 N.W.2d at 804. Whether particular acts by an employee constitute misconduct is a question of law to be reviewed de novo. Id.
Sipe’s principal argument on appeal is that she did not engage in disqualifying misconduct. An employee who is discharged for employment misconduct is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (2000). Under the current statutory scheme, employee misconduct is defined in relevant part as
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.