This opinion will be unpublished and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
Marsha G. Kiehne,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Department of Economic Security
File No. 917001
Marsha G. Kiehne, RR3, Box 59, Harmony, MN 55939 (pro se relator)
Dan-Am Co., One Sata Drive, Spring Valley, MN 55975 (respondent)
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator Marsha G. Kiehne challenges the decision of the representative of the Commissioner of Economic Security that relator was not entitled to unemployment benefits because she was discharged from employment for misconduct. We affirm.
An employee discharged for misconduct is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (2000). Whether an employee has committed employment misconduct presents a mixed question of fact and law. Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., Inc., 346 N.W.2d 159, 161 (Minn. 1984). The factual findings of the commissioner’s representative must “be viewed in the light most favorable to the decision, and if there is evidence reasonably tending to sustain them, they will not be disturbed.” White v. Metropolitan Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). This court will affirm if the findings are supported by the evidence and if the conclusions of law are not contrary to law. Colburn, 346 N.W.2d at 161.
Misconduct is defined by statute as:
(1) 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; or
(2) negligent or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job, that demonstrates a substantial lack of concern for the employment.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(a) (2000). The statute also states that misconduct does not include:
[i]nefficiency, inadvertence, simple unsatisfactory conduct, poor performance because of inability or incapacity, or absence because of illness or injury with proper notice to the employer.
Id., subd. 6(b).
An employee’s “knowing violation of an employer’s policies, rules, or reasonable requests constitutes misconduct.” Montgomery v. F & M Marquette Nat’l Bank, 384 N.W.2d 602, 604 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. June 13, 1986). A good-faith misunderstanding of rules or policies does not constitute misconduct. Tuckerman Optical Corp. v. Thoeny, 407 N.W.2d 491, 493 (Minn. App. 1987).
Relator was employed by respondent Dan-Am Co. as an accounts receivable manager from April 2, 2001, to June 8, 2001. The commissioner’s representative found that relator violated standards of behavior her employer had a right to expect by: (1) disregarding a specific directive and sending out arrearages letters to customers without the approval of the company president; and (2) attempting to implement procedural changes immediately after commencing employment notwithstanding a specific instruction that she spend six months learning the business and the customers before making changes.
Relator contends that she did not send out letters to customers without prior approval and that she did not attempt to implement changes to respondent’s business. But on review, this court is not entitled to weigh the evidence; rather, we give deference to the decision of the commissioner’s representative. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). Because the record contains support for the factual findings of the commissioner’s representative, we defer to those findings.
Because the record supports the factual findings of the commissioner’s representative, we must next determine whether, as a matter of law, relator’s actions rose to a level of misconduct contemplated under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6. We have repeatedly held that a knowing violation of an employer’s rules or policies is misconduct. See, e.g., Sivertson v. Sims Sec., Inc., 390 N.W.2d 868, 871 (Minn. App. 1986) (employee’s violation of policy requiring security guard to remain at post until supervisor was notified and replacement arrived was misconduct), review denied (Minn. Aug. 20, 1986); Ruzynski v. Cub Foods, Inc., 378 N.W.2d 660, 662-63 (Minn. App. 1985) (employee’s violation of employer’s timecard policy was misconduct).
Relator disregarded direct instructions from her supervisors by sending out letters without the prior approval she was told was necessary and by ignoring the request that she not make suggestions about company procedure until she had been employed there for six months. The record does not indicate that relator was mistaken about the meaning of any of the instructions. Rather, she knew of the instructions and chose not to follow them. Because these actions were intentional and in direct violation of instructions she had received from respondent, her actions qualify as employment misconduct under the law. See Houston v. International Data Transfer Corp., 645 N.W.2d 144, 150 (Minn. 2002).
Relator also claims that she did not receive any written warnings of misconduct and that the conduct at issue involved one-time occurrences that she subsequently corrected. But, in the context of a claim for unemployment benefits, the issue is not whether the employer properly terminated the employee; it is whether the terminated employee is entitled to unemployment compensation. Auger v. Gillette Co., 303 N.W.2d 255, 257 (Minn. 1981). And even a single incident may constitute misconduct disqualifying an employee from unemployment benefits, Wilson v. Comfort Bus Co., Inc., 491 N.W.2d 908, 911 (Minn. App. 1992), review denied (Minn. Jan. 15, 1993), if the incident involved was intentional conduct that disregarded the standards of conduct the employer had a right to expect. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(a) (2000). Because the facts show relator’s conduct was intentional, we conclude the commissioner’s representative did not err in concluding she was not entitled to unemployment benefits.