This opinion will be unpublished and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
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed August 24, 2004
Robert H. Schumacher, Judge
Intermet Minneapolis, 5100 Boone Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55428 (respondent)
Lee B. Nelson, Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge; Anderson, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
ROBERT H. SCHUMACHER, Judge
Relator James Michael Cook challenges the decision of the commissioner's representative that he is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because he quit without good reason caused by his employer. We affirm.
Cook has been a machine operator for Intermet Minneapolis since 1999. In January 2003, he requested a six-month medical leave of absence that was to end on July 13, 2003. On July 11, 2003 Intermet sent Cook a certified letter, which provided:
Your personal leave will expire on July 13, 2003. We are requesting that you return to work on Monday, July 21, 2003 at 2:30 p.m.
We have identified several jobs . . . that we feel are within your physician's instructions on the Work Ability Report dated 4/22/03.
If you do not return to work on Monday, July 21, 2003, or provide us with a physician statement that you are unable to perform the jobs in the attachment, we will assume you are voluntarily resigning from Intermet Minneapolis Plant.
Cook neither contacted Intermet when his leave of absence expired, believing there were no positions for him at Intermet compatible with his medical restrictions based on information received from Intermet in April and May, nor returned to his job on July 21. He further testified that he never picked up the July 11 letter because the notices he got from the post office did not identify the sender and he assumed it was from a collection agency that had been harassing him. Pursuant to the provisions of the certified letter, Intermet assumed Cook voluntarily quit his employment.
Cook filed for unemployment benefits. The unemployment law judge determined Cook voluntarily quit without good reason caused by Intermet and he was disqualified from receiving benefits. Cook appealed to the commissioner's representative, who also found Cook quit without good reason caused by Intermet.
We review the findings of the commissioner's representative rather than those of the unemployment law judge. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). "We review the commissioner's factual findings in the light most favorable to the commissioner's decision and will not disturb them as long as there is evidence that reasonably tends to sustain those findings." Schmidgall v. Filmtec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002). The ultimate determination of whether an employee is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits is a question of law that this court reviews de novo. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
Cook argues he did not quit, but rather was discharged. "A quit from employment occurs when the decision to end the employment was, at the time the employment ended, the employee's." Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 2 (a) (2002). An employee quits when he or she "directly or indirectly exercises a free-will choice to leave the employment." Shanahan v. Dist. Mem. Hosp., 495 N.W.2d 894, 896 (Minn. App. 1993). Here, the commissioner's representative found:
On July 11, 2003, Intermet sent a letter to Cook by certified mail indicating that his leave of absence was set to expire July 13, 2003, and that he was expected to return to work on July 21, 2003. This letter also described several positions that Intermet felt would accommodate Cook's medical restrictions. The letter also advised Cook that if he failed to return to work on July 21, 2003, he would be considered to have quit employment.
Cook received notices from the post office that it had attempted delivery of the certified mail on July 14 and 26, 2003, but Cook did not attempt to pick up the letter because he thought it might be a letter from a collection agency.
Cook never contacted Intermet and never attempted to return to work after his medical leave of absence ended. Intermet considered Cook to have quit his employment by abandoning his job.
The record supports the findings of the commissioner's representative. The July 11, 2003 letter is included in the record along with the receipt showing it was sent certified and that it could not be delivered. Cook testified that he received notice from the post office about the certified letter but he chose not to pick it up. Cook also testified that he did not attempt to contact Intermet when his leave of absence ended. Viewing these facts in the light most favorable to the commissioner's representative's decision, we conclude Cook exercised his free will to leave his employment when he failed to pick up the certified letter or make any attempt to contact his employer when his leave of absence ended. See Shanahan, 495 N.W.2d at 896.
An employee who quits employment shall be disqualified from all unemployment benefits unless the employee quits due to "a good reason caused by the employer." Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2002). Cook has not presented any argument that if this court concluded he quit, he did so for good reason caused by Intermet and we deem this issue to be waived. See Melina v. Chaplin, 327 N.W.2d 19, 20 (Minn. 1982) (deciding issue not argued in briefs must accordingly be deemed waived). Cook is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.