This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
John C. Hamilton,
City of St. Paul,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed May 20, 2003
Department of Economic Security
File No. 6496 02
John C. Hamilton, 827 Ashland Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104 (relator pro se)
Manuel Cervantes, City Attorney, Gail Langfield, Assistant City Attorney, 400 City Hall and Courthouse, 15 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent City of St. Paul)
Harry Mares, M. Kate Chaffee, Lee B. Nelson, Department of Economic Security, 390 N. Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent commissioner)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Hudson, Judge.
Relator John C. Hamilton served as director of human resources for respondent City of St. Paul from 1995 until January 2002, when the city’s new mayor did not reappoint him. By writ of certiorari, Hamilton challenges a decision by a representative of respondent Commissioner of Economic Security determining that because Hamilton’s position was a “nontenured major policy making or advisory position” for a political subdivision, it was “noncovered” employment under Minn. Stat. § 268.035, subd. 20(16) (2002). Because the evidence in the record reasonably supports this determination, we affirm.
In economic security cases, this court’s certiorari review is limited to determining whether the record reasonably supports the commissioner’s decision. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). We review findings of fact in the light most favorable to the decision and will not disturb those findings if there is evidence in the record reasonably tending to sustain them. Schmidgall v. FilmTec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002). On issues of law, such as statutory construction and interpretation, we exercise independent judgment. Houston v. Int’l Data Transfer Corp., 645 N.W.2d 144, 149 (Minn. 2002).
In order to collect unemployment benefits, an individual must earn a certain amount of “wage credits” for “covered” employment, which is essentially defined as any employment performed in Minnesota “unless excluded as ‘noncovered employment.’” Minn. Stat. §§ 268.035, subds. 12, 27, .07, subd. 2 (2002). Noncovered employment includes “employment for a political subdivision of Minnesota that is a nontenured major policy making or advisory position.” Minn. Stat. § 268.035, subd. 20(16). The department has promulgated rules to further define policy making and advisory positions as follows:
An individual in a policy-making position is one who determines the direction, emphasis, and scope of action in the development and the administration of governmental programs. An individual in an advisory position is one who advises governmental agencies and officers with respect to policy, program, and administration without having authority to implement its recommendations. * * * If a law or ordinance does not clearly and specifically so label a position, other pertinent factors used in determining whether a position is advisory or policy-making include:
A. job descriptions;
B. qualifications required of individuals for the position; and
C. responsibilities involved.
Minn. R. 3315.0530, subp. 4 (2001).
Here, the position that was occupied by Hamilton is covered by the charter as follows:
[The] director of personnel [now known as human resources] shall manage the personnel system of the city[.] At the direction of the mayor, or on his or her own initiative, the director of personnel shall prepare personnel rules for review and adoption by the council.
St. Paul City Charter §§ 12.05, .06. Thus, the city charter specifically created the position of director of human resources to manage the personnel system and prepare personnel rules, duties that suggest the position holder is expected to assist in the shaping of personnel policy for the city.
The job announcement for Hamilton’s position further tends to support the conclusion that the city sought someone to hold a major policy making and advisory position with the city. That announcement described the job duties of the position as follows:
Develops and administers a broad program of public and human resources administration; defines standards and principles of operation insuring compliance with merit system principles. Develops policy recommendations for city government relating to the human resource system.
A third document submitted by the city set out a general statement of the duties of the position as follows:
Performs highly responsible managerial work in the direction, organization, evaluation, planning and development of a comprehensive human resources management program; provides policy recommendations for the Mayor and departments; provides the departments with effective, qualified, representative and appropriately compensated human resources; performs related duties as required.
Although the city characterized this document as a “job description completed by Mr. Hamilton,” Hamilton explained that this document was not prepared by him and is a “class specification,” not a job description.
Nevertheless, these three pieces of evidence, the city charter, the job announcement, and the class specification, establish that the position of director of human resources involved advising and policy making in the areas of planning, developing, and directing human resources. Thus, the record reasonably supports the decision of the commissioner’s representative that “[t]he position was created for the purpose of policy making and advisory functions.”
Hamilton argues that the mayor did not actually use him for policy making or advisory functions and that he never actually engaged in the activities and responsibilities outlined in these documents. This argument was addressed and rejected by this court in Ginsberg v. Dep’t of Jobs & Training, 481 N.W.2d 138, 143 (Minn. App. 1992) (stating that “legislature’s inclusion of the term ‘position’” evidenced intent to exclude from covered employment certain “positions,” whether the holder of that position actually performed policy making or advisory duties), review denied (Minn. Apr. 9, 1992).
Hamilton further argues that because the human resources department is not an executive department under the city’s charter, his position was not a “major” position in the city. But the administrative rules state:
The word “major” in the phrase “major nontenured policy-making or advisory position” refers to high level governmental positions usually filled by appointment by the chief executive or the executive’s designee.
Minn. R. 3315.0530, subp. 4 (2001). Thus, the fact that the director of human resources is not the director of an executive department is not relevant; Hamilton was appointed by the mayor to a high level position within the city.
Finally, Hamilton argues that the decision by the commissioner’s representative was “flawed” because he referred to the class specification document as a “job description” that was written by Hamilton when it was not. He insists that a class specification only defines the general duties that may be found in positions within the class, while a position description would define the specific duties to be performed by the individual in the position described. Again, Hamilton’s argument appears irrelevant, particularly given the other statements regarding the duties of the position set out in the city charter and job announcement.
We therefore affirm the decision of the commissioner’s representative.