This opinion will be unpublished and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
Northwest Airlines, Inc.,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 1724 04
Kathy S. Detert, 472 Tiffany Drive, Hastings, MN 55033-3980 (pro se relator)
Northwest Airlines, Inc., Minneapolis Airport & Foreign Countries, c/o TALX UCM Services Inc., P.O. Box 283, St. Louis, MO 63166-0283 (respondent)
Lee B. Nelson, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Klaphake, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator Kathy Detert challenges the determination of the representative of the Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development that she is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
Appellate courts review the decision of the commissioner’s representative rather than the decision of the unemployment law judge. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). Decisions of the commissioner’s representative are accorded “particular deference.” Id. Appellate courts review the factual findings of the commissioner’s representative in the light most favorable to the decision and will not disturb them if evidence in the record reasonably tends to sustain them. Schmidgall v. FilmTec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002).
Here, the commissioner’s representative found that relator had taken a voluntary leave of absence from her job at Northwest Airlines from January 6, 2004, through February 13, 2004. Relator does not directly dispute this finding. Instead, relator first argues that she should qualify for unemployment benefits because other employees out on the same voluntary leave received benefits. We disagree.
Unemployment benefits “provid[e] workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own a temporary partial wage replacement to assist the unemployed worker to become reemployed.” Minn. Stat. § 268.03, subd. 1 (Supp. 2003). To be eligible for unemployment benefits, relator must meet certain statutory criteria. Minn. Stat. § 268.069, subd. 1 (2002) (outlining the requirements that applicants for unemployment benefits must satisfy). Section 268.085 of the Minnesota Statutes provides, in relevant part, that “[a]n applicant on a voluntary leave of absence shall be ineligible for benefits for the duration of the leave of absence.” Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 13a (a) (2002). And “[a] leave of absence is voluntary when work that the applicant can . . . perform is available with the applicant’s employer[,] but the applicant chooses not to work.” Id.
There is evidence in the record that reasonably tends to sustain the commissioner’s representative’s finding that relator’s leave was voluntary. Relator testified at her appeal hearing before the unemployment law judge that she “put in” for leave in December 2003. Northwest also confirmed by letter that relator “elected” to participate in the leave plan in question, and stated that Northwest would contest any unemployment claims by relator while she was out on leave. This evidence is undisputed. We conclude that, when viewed in the light most favorable to the decision, the record reasonably tends to support the commissioner’s representative’s findings.
Relator also argues that she should receive unemployment benefits because prior to accepting the voluntary leave, Northwest employees told her she would qualify for unemployment. But an applicant for unemployment benefits seeks state funds, not employer funds. Minn. Stat. § 268.069, subd. 2 (stating unemployment benefits are paid from state funds and shall not be considered paid by an employer) (Supp. 2003). And it is therefore the responsibility of the department, not the employer, to determine an individual’s entitlement to unemployment benefits. Id.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.