This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
IN COURT OF APPEALS
City of Brainerd,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed March 14, 2006
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 1013 05
Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development,
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 challenges the decision of a senior unemployment review judge, who adopted the findings and decision of an unemployment law judge and determined that relator’s weekly unemployment benefit amount should be reduced by the amount of relator’s pension payments. We affirm.
Bollig was laid off by Hoffmann Electric and applied for unemployment benefits. For purposes of determining his weekly
unemployment benefit amount, Bollig reported base-period wages from Hoffmann
Electric, the City of
The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) determined that the entire amount of the pension payments that Bollig was receiving from PERA should be deducted from Bollig’s weekly unemployment benefit amount. Bollig filed an appeal, and a telephone hearing was conducted before an unemployment law judge (ULJ). The ULJ determined that the pension payments should be deducted from Bollig’s weekly benefit amount. Bollig filed another appeal, and a senior unemployment review judge (SURJ) adopted the ULJ’s findings and decision as the final findings and decision of DEED. This certiorari appeal followed.
The statutes that govern eligibility for unemployment benefits and establish the weekly unemployment benefit amount that an applicant is entitled to receive provide that
[a]n applicant shall not be eligible to receive unemployment benefits for any week with respect to which the applicant is receiving, has received, or has filed for payment, equal to or in excess of the applicant’s weekly unemployment benefit amount, in the form of:
. . . .
pension, retirement, or annuity payments from any plan contributed to by a base
period employer including the
Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 3(a)(2) (2004).
If the payment is less than the applicant’s weekly unemployment benefit amount, unemployment benefits shall be reduced by the amount of the payment.
Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 3(b) (2004).
“No deduction shall be made from an applicant’s weekly unemployment benefit amount for earnings from service as a volunteer firefighter or volunteer ambulance service personnel.” Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 5(c) (2004).
defers to the SURJ’s findings of fact if they are reasonably supported by the
evidence in the record, but this court exercises its independent judgment with
respect to questions of law. Ress v. Abbott Nw. Hosp., Inc., 448
N.W.2d 519, 523 (
Bollig does not
dispute that he is receiving a pension from a base-period employer; the City of
Bollig’s argument is basically that the law has produced a result that the legislature did not intend. Bollig contends that the intent of Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 3(a)(2), is to protect an employer from having an employee receive unemployment benefits, which affects the employer’s experience rating and, in turn, the employer’s future unemployment tax rate, while also receiving pension benefits. But, Bollig contends, this intent does not apply when the employer is a fire department because under Minn. Stat. § 268.047, subd. 2(4) (2004), unemployment benefits paid by a fire department are not used in determining the future unemployment tax rate of the fire department.
We conclude that
Bollig’s argument is not supported by the plain language of Minn. Stat. §
268.085, subd. 3(a)(2), which does not include an exception that applies when
the base-period employer that contributed to a retirement plan is a fire
department. When statutory language is
clear and unambiguous, this court must give effect to its plain meaning. Tuma v.
Comm’r of Econ. Sec., 386 N.W.2d 702, 706 (
Because Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 3(a)(2), (b), unambiguously state that the weekly unemployment benefit amount of an applicant who is receiving pension payments from a retirement plan that was contributed to by a base-period employer shall be reduced by the amount of the pension payments, the SURJ did not err in concluding that Bollig’s weekly unemployment benefit amount should be reduced by the amount of Bollig’s pension payments.