This opinion will be unpublished and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
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed August 16, 2005
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 897704
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator Bruce R. Batterson challenges the decision by the senior unemployment review judge that his alteration of the return-to-work date on a note from his doctor was employment misconduct that disqualifies him from receiving unemployment benefits. We affirm.
Respondent Wal-Mart Associates, Inc., employed Batterson as a department manager from January 2000 through April 2, 2004. In January 2004, Batterson took a leave of absence from work to have surgery on his arm. At an appointment on March 9, 2004, Batterson’s doctor gave him a note authorizing him to return to work on March 10, 2004. Wal-Mart told Batterson to return to work on March 16, 2004.
Batterson did not return to work on March 16 and instead informed Wal-Mart that he was having problems with his arm. When Batterson returned to work on March 22, 2004, he gave Wal-Mart the original doctor’s note authorizing him to return to work on March 10, but Batterson had changed the return-to-work date to March 22. Wal-Mart received a copy of the doctor’s note from its worker’s-compensation representative and discovered the alteration by Batterson. Wal-Mart discharged Batterson for submitting the falsified doctor’s note.
An adjudicator for respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development determined that Batterson was discharged from employment for reasons other than misconduct and, therefore, was not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Wal-Mart appealed to an unemployment law judge (ULJ).
At the hearing before the ULJ, Batterson testified that he spoke to his doctor on March 17, 2004, and the doctor authorized an extension of his medical leave through March 21, 2004. Batterson submitted documentation from the clinic showing that his doctor had extended his medical leave through March 21, but the documentation was not provided to Wal-Mart before Batterson’s discharge.
The ULJ determined that Batterson was discharged from employment for misconduct and reversed the determination of nondisqualification. A senior unemployment review judge found that “Batterson falsified the doctor’s note in order to mislead his employer” and affirmed the ULJ’s decision. This certiorari appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
An employee discharged for employment misconduct is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (Supp. 2003). Whether an employee has committed employment misconduct presents a mixed question of fact and law. Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., Inc., 346 N.W.2d 159, 161 (Minn. 1984). The senior unemployment review judge determines the fact question of whether an employee committed the alleged acts of misconduct. Scheunemann v. Radisson S. Hotel, 562 N.W.2d 32, 34 (Minn. App. 1997). The factual findings of the senior unemployment review judge are “viewed in the light most favorable to the decision, and if there is evidence reasonably tending to sustain them, they will not be disturbed.” White v. Metro. Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). This court reviews de novo whether the employee’s actions constituted employment misconduct that disqualifies the employee from receiving unemployment benefits. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
(a) Employment misconduct means any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job (1) that evinces a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee, or (2) that displays clearly a substantial lack of concern for the employment.
Inefficiency, inadvertence, simple unsatisfactory conduct, a single incident that does not have a significant adverse impact on the employer, conduct an average reasonable employee would have engaged in under the circumstances, poor performance because of inability or incapacity, good faith errors in judgment if judgment was required, or absence because of illness or injury with proper notice to the employer, are not employment misconduct.
. . . .
(e) The definition of employment misconduct provided by this subdivision shall be exclusive and no other definition shall apply.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6 (Supp. 2003).
Batterson argues that his alteration of the doctor’s note was not misconduct because his doctor had authorized extending his medical leave through March 21, and he merely changed the note to reflect the doctor’s authorization. But the evidence supports the senior unemployment review judge’s finding that “Batterson falsified the doctor’s note in order to mislead his employer.” Even if the altered note accurately reflected the doctor’s authorization, the altered note was misleading in that it appeared that the return-to-work date had been written by the doctor rather than Batterson. The note reflected what Batterson understood his doctor had authorized, but it was presented to the employer as if it were the doctor’s authorization, rather than Batterson’s report of what his doctor had told him. Consequently, the note could be misleading to an employer concerned about having accurate medical information before allowing an employee to return to work. As the senior unemployment review judge stated, “An employer has the right to expect honest communication from employees regarding employment matters.” (1992). See Baron v. Lens Crafters, Inc., 514 N.W.2d 305, 307-08 (Minn. App. 1994) (stating that “[d]ishonesty that is connected with employment may constitute misconduct); see also Cherveny v. 10,000 Auto Parts, 353 N.W.2d 685, 688 (Minn. App. 1984) (concluding that once employee agreed to cooperate in employer’s investigation of possible theft, employee had duty to be honest, and his dishonesty in answering questions constituted misconduct).
The senior unemployment review judge properly determined that Batterson was discharged for employment misconduct and, therefore, disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
For unemployment decisions made on or after
August 1, 2004, the decision-maker formerly known as the commissioner’s
representative is referred to as a “senior unemployment review judge.” Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 2 (2004); 2004
 The senior unemployment review judge found that the note released Batterson to return to work on March 9, 2004. But the evidence in the record shows that the appointment with the doctor was March 9, 2004, and the return-to-work date was March 10, 2004.