This opinion will be unpublished and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
Abdiaziz J. Ali,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed May 23, 2006
Department of Employment and
Agency File No. 702705
Ross L. Leuning,
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Dietzen Judge.
Relator challenges the decision by the senior unemployment-review judge (SURJ) that he is ineligible to receive unemployment-compensation benefits because he was unavailable for suitable employment, arguing that the SURJ failed to consider relator’s testimony that he was willing to leave school should full-time employment conflict with his education. We affirm.
Relator Abdiaziz J. Ali worked full time as a packager for Viracon, a glass manufacturing company, from January 2004 through February 2005. In January 2005, appellant began attending Minnesota State University-Mankato as a full-time student.
After being laid off from his employment, relator established an unemployment-benefits account with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), effective March 13, 2005. As part of the process, relator completed a “Student Statement on Eligibility” form regarding his student status and job search. Relator identified his primary occupation as “Student looking for job.” Appellant answered “yes” to the question of whether his schooling affected his ability to seek or accept a full-time job, explaining that he could “look for work sometimes in the morning.” Relator answered “yes” to the question of whether he was seeking work, stating that he is applying for “any kind of work that . . . fit[s] in my school schedule.” In response to the question regarding what days and hours he is willing to work, relator responded “After 4:00 p.m.” Relator answered “no” to the question that asked if he was willing to quit school if offered a suitable full-time job, stating “my education is more important for me but if I have to I am going to quit in order to survive.”
DEED determined that relator was unavailable for suitable employment and, therefore, ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. Relator appealed DEED’s determination, and a telephone hearing was conducted before an unemployment-law judge (ULJ). Relator testified that he was a full-time student at Minnesota State University-Mankato at the time he applied for unemployment benefits. When questioned about his statement on the form that education was more important than working, relator testified that this was “[n]ot really” the case because “in order for me to survive, first I have to get a job and then I can see if I can go to school or not, you know?”
The ULJ found that relator was a full-time student and that his testimony that he was willing to leave school to accept employment was not credible given his contradictory responses on the student-eligibility form. The ULJ affirmed DEED’s determination that relator was “not available for suitable employment” and therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits.
Relator appealed the ULJ’s decision to the SURJ, who ordered that the findings of fact and decision of the ULJ be adopted as the final findings of fact and decision of DEED. Relator appealed by writ of certiorari.
D E C I S I O N
Relator argues that the SURJ’s decision that he is ineligible for unemployment benefits based on unavailability for work is contrary to the evidence because he was willing to quit school if he found suitable employment.
reviewing a decision of the [SURJ], this court’s scope of review is very
narrow.” Markel v. City of Circle Pines, 479 N.W.2d 382, 383 (
to draw unemployment benefits requires an applicant to be “available for
suitable employment,” which means that “an applicant is ready and willing to
accept suitable employment in the labor market area.” Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subds. 1(2), 15(a)
(2004). An applicant’s attachment to the
work force must be genuine.
“To be considered ‘available for
suitable employment,’ a student must be willing to quit school to accept
relator stated in the student-eligibility form that his education was “more
important” and that he would quit college only if required “to survive.” Relator’s testimony at the hearing, which
contradicted his earlier written statements, gave rise to questions of
credibility that were resolved by the ULJ as factfinder. The ULJ made findings, which the SURJ later
adopted, that relator’s written statements in the student eligibility form were
more credible than his testimony. And
this court defers to the SURJ’s determination regarding witness credibility and
conflicting evidence. Jenson v. Dep’t of Econ. Sec., 617
N.W.2d 627, 631 (Minn. App. 2000), review
Because there is evidence in the record that relator restricted his availability for suitable employment and did not have a genuine attachment to the work force, and given our limited scope of review, the SURJ’s decision that relator was ineligible for unemployment benefits must be affirmed.