This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).







Shereen S. Sabet,





Sterling Jewelers, Inc.,



Department of Employment and

Economic Development,




Filed February 14, 2006

Klaphake, Judge


Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 14006 04


Shereen S. Sabet, 15452 Eagle Street NW, Andover, MN  55304 (pro se relator)


Sterling Jewelers, Inc., TLALX UCM Services, Inc., UC Express (SM), P.O. Box 283, St. Louis, MO  63166 (respondent)


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.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Relator Shereen Sabet challenges the decision of the senior unemployment review judge (review judge), who determined that relator was discharged by respondent Sterling Jewelers, Inc., for employment misconduct.  Because the review judge’s decision is supported by the evidence and not contrary to the statutory mandate, we affirm.


            An 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.”  Id., subd. 6(a) (Supp. 2003). 

            Our 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 (Minn. 1992); Ress v. Abbott Nw. Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).  “Whether an employee engaged in conduct that disqualifies the employee from unemployment benefits is a mixed question of fact and law.”  Schmidgall v. FilmTec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002).  Factual findings will not be reversed if there is evidence in the record reasonably tending to support those findings.  Id.  But whether a particular act constitutes disqualifying misconduct is a question of law that we review de novo.  Id.

            The 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; Jones told relator not to fire Hedberg, but to document her concerns in writing.  Relator also contacted the company’s loss prevention and human resources departments regarding her suspicions about Hedberg; these departments informed relator that she needed facts to back up her allegations before terminating Hedberg and before a company investigation could be conducted.  Nevertheless, prior to a company investigation of relator’s allegations or a supervisor’s approval of the termination, relator fired Hedberg on July 14.  On July 16, 2004, relator was discharged for intentionally disregarding directions from her supervisor and others in the company.

            Relator 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 (Minn. App. 1995) (stating this court defers to review judge’s credibility determinations).

            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.