This opinion will be unpublished and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
Department of Employment & Economic Development,
Filed March 7, 2006
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent)
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this certiorari appeal from denial of unemployment benefits, relator Craig Orum asserts that the senior unemployment review judge erred by concluding that he was ineligible for benefits. Because the record at the time of the hearing established that relator unreasonably restricted his job search, we affirm.
An applicant is
eligible for unemployment benefits when “the applicant was able to work and was
available for suitable employment, and was actively seeking suitable
employment.” Minn. Stat. § 268.085,
subd. 1(2) (2004). To be available, the
applicant must be “ready and willing to accept suitable employment.”
In reviewing a
determination on an applicant’s eligibility for benefits, this court will
uphold the senior unemployment review judge’s (SURJ) determination if it is
reasonably supported by the evidence. See id.
The ultimate determination of whether an employee is disqualified from
receipt of unemployment benefits is a question of law, which this court reviews
de novo. Ress v. Abbott Nw. Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (
Relator worked as a carpenter for Dynamic Homes from November 2001 until he was laid off for lack of work on December 4, 2004. The Department of Employment and Economic Development adjudicated him ineligible for unemployment benefits. On appeal, when asked by the SURJ, relator testified that he was “constantly checking the paper and talking to friends” to look for other work while he was laid off. But relator also unequivocally testified that he chose to wait for Dynamic Homes to recall him. He stated that if he were still laid off on April 15, 2005, he would then “serious[ly] start looking.” Having clearly expressed his intention to wait, relator’s testimony that he had checked the papers and talked to friends does not satisfy the requirement that he was “ready and willing to accept suitable employment in the labor market area” under Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 15(a).
To be actively
seeking suitable employment, an applicant “shall, when reasonable, contact
those employers from whom the applicant was laid off due to lack of work and
request suitable employment.”
Relator argues in his brief that he had assurances from his employer and other employees that he would be recalled in six to eight weeks, but this was not supported in his testimony. Relator only testified that the employer had never had a layoff lasting longer than eight weeks and that the employer was not “quite sure” when relator would be recalled. Relator did not testify that the employer had told him that this particular layoff would last only six to eight weeks, and, in fact, it had lasted more than four months at the time of the hearing.
Relator also argues that the SURJ did not consider his personal circumstances and how those circumstances made finding replacement work difficult. But the dispositive issue is not whether there was suitable employment; rather, the issue is whether relator actively sought suitable employment. It is relator’s burden to show that he was ready and willing to work and was actively seeking work. If he were unable to find work despite his readiness and efforts, he would have been eligible for benefits.
The SURJ found that “[relator] testified that he was essentially waiting to be recalled to his employment with Dynamic Homes and did not want to forgo that job for another.” This finding is reasonably supported in the record and supports the conclusion that relator is ineligible for benefits.