This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Sterling Jewelers, Inc.,
Department of Employment and
Filed February 14, 2006
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 14006 04
Jewelers, Inc., TLALX UCM Services, Inc., UC Express (SM),
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, E200 First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Department)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Hudson, Judge.
employee who is discharged for employment misconduct is disqualified from
receiving unemployment benefits. Minn. Stat.
§ 268.095, subd. 4(1) (Supp. 2003).
The relevant statute defines employment misconduct as “any intentional,
negligent, or indifferent conduct . . . (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 demonstrates a substantial lack
of concern for the employment.”
standard of review in unemployment insurance cases is very narrow and is
limited to determining whether the evidence reasonably sustains the decision of
the review judge. Markel v. City of Circle Pines, 479 N.W.2d 382, 383-84 (
record here shows that relator, who was employed as a store manager, took an
approved leave of absence from May 29 to June 30, 2004. During relator’s leave, her assistant manager,
Megan Hedberg, was appointed to fill in for her. Relator claimed that when she returned to
work, she suspected that Hedberg had not followed policies; relator also claimed
that Hedberg and district manager Katy Jones were conspiring against her. On July 14, relator asked Jones, who was also
relator’s direct supervisor, for permission to fire Hedberg;
claimed that she had the authority to fire Hedberg without approval and that no
one told her that she could not terminate Hedberg; Jones, however, testified
that she and others in the company had specifically told relator that she could
not fire Hedberg at that time. Noting these
conflicts, the review judge rejected relator’s claims and accepted the
testimony of Jones as more credible. See Whitehead v. Moonlight Nursing Care,
Inc., 529 N.W.2d 350, 352 (
We therefore conclude that the record reasonably supports the review judge’s determination that relator intentionally disregarded directives that prohibited her from terminating Hedberg and that she undermined the authority of her direct supervisor by taking the issue to others in the company in an attempt to find someone who would authorize her actions. A knowing violation of an employer’s reasonable directives, policies, or procedures constitutes employment misconduct because it demonstrates a substantial lack of concern for the employer’s interests. See, e.g., Schmidgall, 644 N.W.2d at 804; Sandstrom v. Douglas Mach. Corp., 372 N.W.2d 89, 91 (Minn. App. 1985). Here, the evidence demonstrates that relator chose to ignore directives that she document her concerns about Hedberg and follow certain procedures before any steps were taken to discipline or fire Hedberg. Relator’s failure to follow these reasonable directives constitutes employment misconduct.
Finally, even if relator reasonably believed that she had an adequate basis for terminating Hedberg’s employment, her intentional refusal to perform as directed by her supervisor and by others in the company does not fall within the exception for good faith errors in judgment. See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(a) (stating that “[i]nefficiency, inadvertence, simple unsatisfactory conduct, a single incident that does not have a significant adverse impact on the employer, . . . [or] good faith errors in judgment if judgment was required” are not employment misconduct). Relator’s deliberate choice to disregard her employer’s instructions cannot be deemed a “good faith error in judgment” or a “single incident that does not have a significant impact on the employer.” See, e.g., Bibeau v. Resistance Tech., Inc., 411 N.W.2d 29, 32 (Minn. App. 1987) (upholding disqualification from unemployment benefits where employee deliberately chose to disobey employer’s instructions).
Because the record reasonably supports the review judge’s decision that relator committed employment misconduct and was therefore disqualified from receiving benefits, we affirm.