This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).







Martha J. Thomas,





St. Paul’s Church Home,



Commissioner of Economic Security,



Filed July 1, 2003


Willis, Judge


Department of Economic Security

File No. 13427 01


Martha J. Thomas, 905 Westminster Street, Apartment 301, Saint Paul, MN  55101-4055 (pro se relator)


St. Paul’s Church Home, 484 Ashland Avenue, St. Paul, MN  55102 (respondent)


Lee B. Nelson, M. Kate Chaffee, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN  55101 (for respondent Commissioner)


            Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Pro se relator Martha Thomas appeals from the decision of the commissioner’s representative that she committed employment misconduct that disqualifies her from receiving unemployment-insurance benefits. Because the evidence supports the finding of employment misconduct, we affirm.


            Thomas worked part-time as a certified nurse’s assistant for St. Paul’s Church Home from September 1998 until her employment was terminated in October 2001.  In June 2000, a supervising nurse’s request that Thomas perform certain duties resulted in an argument in which Thomas yelled at the supervisor.  The supervisor informed Thomas that she needed to calm down or she would receive a warning.  When the supervisor left the area, Thomas continued to yell at the supervisor and threatened to take it “downstairs and finish her off.”  Thomas was given a written warning. 

            In March 2001, when Thomas received an oral warning for improper care of a resident, she became upset and pointed her finger in the supervisor’s face and stated that if she had to “go home, you’re gonna pay, trust me.”  Thomas again received a written warning.  In May 2001, a coworker filed a complaint against Thomas, stating that Thomas had yelled at her, using profane language, and told her to “go back to your country.”  Thomas received another written warning for this incident. 

            In October 2001, when a supervising nurse criticized Thomas for not completing a task, Thomas became upset and told the supervisor, “Don’t mess with me.  I will call my boyfriend and he will deal with you.”  Thomas again received a written warning.  When Thomas was handed the warning, she tore it up and told the nurse, “Don’t mess with me”; Thomas received yet another written warning for this incident. 

              Thomas was fired in October 2001 for repeated inappropriate behavior and threatening comments made to coworkers and supervisors.  Thomas asserts that she was discharged not for employment misconduct but as the result of discrimination because she is an African American.  In support of this contention, Thomas states that in March 2001 she overheard one of her supervisors make a racially disparaging remark about African Americans. 

            Thomas filed a claim for unemployment benefits with the Minnesota Department of Economic Security.  A department representative determined that Thomas was discharged for misconduct and denied the claim; an unemployment-compensation judge upheld the denial of benefits; and a representative of the commissioner of economic security affirmed that decision.  This appeal follows.


An employee who is discharged from employment for employment misconduct is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4 (2000).  A determination by the commissioner’s representative that an employee is disqualified for employment misconduct is a mixed question of fact and law.  Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., Inc., 346 N.W. 2d 159, 161 (Minn. 1984). 

The commissioner’s representative’s findings of fact must be viewed in the light most favorable to the decision and will be sustained on appeal if there is evidence reasonably supporting them.  McGowan v. Executive Express Transp. Enters., Inc., 420 N.W.2d 592, 594 (Minn. 1998).  Here, the commissioner’s representative found that Thomas was discharged for repeated inappropriate conduct and threatening behavior.  Thomas, in support of her claim that she was fired because of racial discrimination, points to a letter she received from the St. Paul Department of Human Rights.  But because the letter is not part of the record, we may not consider it on appeal.  See Deike v. Smelting, 413 N.W.2d 590, 592 (Minn. App. 1987).  The record reasonably supports the commissioner’s representative’s findings.

Whether the facts found by the commissioner’s representative constitute disqualifying misconduct is a question of law, to be independently reviewed by this court.  Del Dee Foods, Inc. v. Miller, 390 N.W.2d 415, 418 (Minn. App. 1986).

Minnesota law defines “employment misconduct” 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 (2000).


Here, the record shows that Thomas on several occasions used abusive language in arguments with supervisors and that she threatened coworkers with bodily harm.  An employee’s use of abusive and threatening language is disqualifying conduct.  Ideker v. LaCresent Nursing Ctr., Inc., 296 Minn. 240, 241, 207 N.W.2d 713, 714 (1973) (holding that an employee’s use of hostile and abusive language on two separate occasions warranted disqualification from unemployment-compensation benefits).  The commissioner’s representative did not err in concluding that Thomas engaged in intentional conduct that disregarded the standard of behavior that her employer has a right to expect, thereby committing employment misconduct that disqualifies her from receiving unemployment-compensation benefits.