This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Department of Economic Security
Camon Simon, 20714 Dairy Avenue, Lester Prairie, MN 55354 (pro se appellant)
On Board Corporation Minnesota, 600 West Lake Street, Excelsior, MN 55331-1755 (pro se respondent)
Lee B. Nelson, Philip B. Byrne, Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Minge, Judge.
Relator Camon Simon challenges a determination by the representative of the commissioner of the Department of Economic Security that he is not entitled to unemployment benefits, arguing that he was not able to adequately present his case at the hearing before an unemployment law judge. We affirm.
Relator Camon Simon was employed as a carpenter, lift operator, and freshwater harvesting manager for respondent On Board Corporation Minnesota for approximately five months (January through June 2002). Simon had a history of yelling at work and arguing with his employer over operational matters. Prior to working for On Board, Simon had received training for anger management or communication skills (training).
In May 2002, Simon was warned about his behavior and encouraged to find alternate means to express his frustration. In June, after a confrontation with his employer, Simon was discharged for continuing to demonstrate inappropriate behavior after warnings.
Simon applied for and was initially granted unemployment benefits. On Board Corporation appealed the Department of Economic Security’s determination. At the hearing before an unemployment law judge, Simon was allowed to testify about incidents of alleged misconduct, the warning he received regarding his behavior, and the incident that directly led to his discharge. But the unemployment law judge did not allow Simon to describe the details of training he received before he was employed by On Board. At the end of Simon’s testimony the judge specifically asked Simon if he had anything else he would like to add. Simon declined. The unemployment law judge found that Simon was discharged for misconduct and was therefore not eligible to receive benefits.
Simon appealed to the representative of the commissioner of the Department of Economic Security. The commissioner’s representative also found that Simon was discharged for misconduct and ineligible to receive benefits. This appeal followed.
Generally, a reviewing court examines the decision of the commissioner’s representative, rather than that of the unemployment law judge. Kalberg v. Park and Rec. Bd., 563 N.W.2d 275, 276 (Minn. App. 1997). The representative’s factual findings are viewed in the light most favorable to the decision and are not disturbed if evidence in the record tends to sustain them. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996). The representative’s decision is issued independent of the findings of fact and the decision of the unemployment law judge. Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 2(c) (2002).
Minn. R. 3310.2921 (2001) and Minn. R. 3310.2922 (2001) provide the procedural rules that ensure that the facts at issue in an unemployment hearing are clearly developed and protect the right of those seeking unemployment benefits to a fair hearing. Relator argues that he was unable to “state his case” before the unemployment law judge. We therefore examine relator’s claim by determining whether the unemployment hearing conformed to the procedural safeguards prescribed by those Minn. R. 3310.2921 and Minn. R. 3310.2922.
Minn. R. 3310.2921 requires the unemployment law judge to “ensure that relevant facts are clearly and fully developed” and to assist unrepresented parties in the presentation of evidence. Relator argues that he was denied a fair hearing because the unemployment law judge cut off his testimony and because he was unable to respond to the testimony of On Board’s representative as she testified. But, when the judge cut off relator’s testimony, relator was testifying about the content of training that he had received, which was not relevant in this case. An unemployment law judge “may exclude any evidence which is irrelevant, immaterial, unreliable, or unduly repetitious.” Minn. R. 3310.2922.
We have previously expressed concern about an incomplete record arising when an unemployment law judge either hinders or does not help a pro se relator develop relevant issues that are identified. See e.g. Scheunemann v. Radisson S. Hotel, 562 N.W.2d 32, 34 (Minn. App. 1997) (stating that hearing officer erred by excluding testimony because evidence that an employee was discharged for reporting sexual harassment is relevant to a claim for unemployment benefits to rebut evidence that the discharge was for misconduct). But in these cases, relevant evidence was improperly excluded. That is not the situation in Simon’s hearing. The judge accepted testimony from Simon and respondent, asked questions of each party regarding the incidents of alleged misbehavior and clarified the details of what transpired. Each party had the opportunity to ask questions of the witnesses and was permitted a closing statement. Moreover, at the end of the hearing, Simon was allowed to add more information but declined. Simon had ample opportunity to “state his case” and the record appears to be fully developed.
Simon has not challenged any of the commissioner’s representative’s findings of fact or the conclusion that he was discharged for misconduct. He requests another hearing to give him the opportunity “to present all of the facts as they existed.” Because the proceeding conformed to procedural rules and the record supports the findings and conclusions of the commissioner’s representative, we affirm.
Dated: June 25, 2003