This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Nancy D. Garrison,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed July 5, 2005
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 5715 04
Lee B. Nelson, Linda A. Holmes, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Wright, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator Enterprise Communications, Inc., (ECI) seeks review of the commissioner’s representative’s decision that respondent Nancy D. Garrison was qualified to receive unemployment benefits because she was laid off due to lack of work and any offers of employment were made before Garrison’s benefit year began. We affirm.
Garrison was employed as a part-time consultant by ECI, a technical services company, from September 1997 through January 28, 2004. Throughout Garrison’s employment, she worked for a single client, Imation. In December 2003, Garrison learned that her contract with Imation would not be renewed. About the middle of January 2004, Garrison had a discussion with ECI’s owner, Terry Hendriksen, about other possible assignments for her. Garrison told Hendriksen that she would be interested in an assignment that was comparable to the Imation position in terms of hours and pay rate and within a reasonable commuting distance. Garrison testified that Hendriksen said there were no other assignments available at that time but there might be some office work she could do.
D E C I S I O N
of the commissioner’s representative are accorded “particular deference.” Tuff v.
Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (
a person quit or was discharged from employment is a question of fact. Shanahan
v. Dist. Memorial Hosp., 495 N.W.2d 894, 896 (
The commissioner’s representative found:
The evidence in the present record shows that [Garrison’s] job assignment ended on January 28, 2004. At that time, the employer did not offer [Garrison] any other work. [Hendriksen] asked [Garrison] not to file for unemployment benefits in order to give the employer an opportunity to find other employment for her. We therefore conclude that [Garrison] was laid off due to a lack of work on January 28, 2004.
These findings are reasonably supported by the evidence in the record.
Citing Garrison’s testimony that she believed that she was still employed on January 29 and that she severed the employment relationship on February 3 because ECI did not offer a new assignment within what she considered to be a reasonable commuting distance, ECI argues that Garrison was not discharged on January 28. ECI also argues that the ULJ asked confusing and misleading questions of Hendriksen to elicit testimony that ECI separated Garrison from employment or laid her off in January 2004. But Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 5(a), expressly states that “[a] layoff due to a lack of work shall be considered a discharge,” and evidence in the record reasonably supports the commissioner’s representative’s finding that Garrison “was laid off due to a lack of work on January 28, 2004.” The determination whether a discharge occurred is based on the statutory definition and not on the subjective perceptions of the employer and the employee.
argues that the period between the end of Garrison’s work at Imation and the
offer of employment on February 3 was too short to be considered a layoff and,
therefore, when Garrison refused the February 3 offer, she should be deemed to
have quit as a matter of law. But ECI
cites no authority to support the position that a layoff cannot occur
immediately upon the cessation of work. See Midway
Ctr. Assocs. v. Midway Ctr., Inc., 306
cites Hill v. Contract Beverages, Inc.,
an applicant for benefits is subject to a disqualification from benefits is a
question of law. Markel v. City of Circle Pines, 479 N.W.2d 382, 383 (
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 8(a) (Supp. 2003), states, “An applicant shall be [disqualified from] all unemployment benefits if the applicant, without good cause: (1) failed to apply for available, suitable employment of which the applicant was advised by the commissioner or an employer; (2) failed to accept suitable employment when offered; or (3) avoided an offer of suitable employment.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 11(a) (Supp. 2003), states, “Subdivision 8 shall only apply to offers of suitable employment made during the applicant’s benefit year.” “‘Benefit year’ means the period of 52 calendar weeks beginning the date a benefit account is effective.” Minn. Stat. § 268.035, subd. 6 (2002). “A benefit account shall be established effective the Sunday of the calendar week that the application for unemployment benefits was filed.” Minn. Stat. § 268.07, subd. 3b(a) (Supp. 2003).
commissioner’s representative found that Garrison refused to accept an offer of
employment on February 3, 2004, but because Garrison’s benefit year did not begin
until February 15, 2004, the disqualification under Minn. Stat. § 268.095,
subd. 8(a), for failing to accept an offer of employment, does not apply. We agree.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 11(a), unambiguously states that a
disqualification under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 8, for failing to
accept an offer of suitable employment, only applies “to offers of suitable
employment made during the applicant’s benefit year.” When a statute is unambiguous, this court may
not construe or interpret the statute, but rather must give effect to the plain
meaning of the statutory language. Tuma v. Comm’r of Econ. Sec., 386 N.W.2d
702, 706 (
argues that the commissioner’s representative erred in applying Johnson v. Dolphin Staffing, 614 N.W.2d
252 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied
ECI argues that the February 3 offer was an offer of suitable employment and that Garrison unreasonably limited the distance she was willing to commute. But because the offer of employment was not made during Garrison’s benefit year, it is irrelevant whether the employment offered was suitable employment.
argues that it is unfair to use the filing date, rather than the date an
unemployment claim accrues, to determine whether failing to accept an
employment offer disqualifies an applicant from receiving benefits. But, as we have already stated, the law unambiguously
states that a disqualification under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 8, for
failing to accept an offer of suitable employment only applies “to offers of
suitable employment made during the applicant’s benefit year.”
argues that it was not afforded a sufficient opportunity to cross-examine
Garrison regarding her belief that she remained employed by ECI after January
28. The ULJ allowed some testimony on
this point, and ECI’s argument does not indicate that additional
cross-examination would have elicited relevant evidence that was not already in
the record. The ULJ has discretion to exclude
any evidence that is “irrelevant, immaterial, unreliable, or unduly
The law in effect at the time of discharge
applies. Brown v. Nat’l Am. Univ., 686 N.W.2d 329, 332 (
 The revisor of statutes inadvertently substituted the term “ineligible for” for the term “disqualified from” in Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subds. 1, 4, 7, 8(a) (Supp. 2003). See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subds. 1, 4, 7, 8(a) (2002) (using term “disqualified from”); 2003 Minn. Laws 1st Spec. Sess. ch. 3, art. 2, § 11 (making other changes to Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1, but retaining term “disqualified from”); 2003 Minn. Laws 1st Spec. Sess. ch. 3, art. 2, § 20(j), (k) (directing revisor to change the term “disqualified from” to “ineligible for” only in Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 12, and then to renumber to Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 13b).