This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Christine L. Rannow,
Minnesota Department of Human Services,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed October 16, 2007
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 8726 06
Christine L. Rannow, 1206 210th Avenue,
Ogilvie, MN 56358 (pro se relator)
Minnesota Department of Human Services, 1425 State Street, Cambridge, MN 55008-9002 (respondent-employer DHS)
Lee B. Nelson, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Suite E200, 1st National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent DEED)
Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.
Relator challenges the decision of an unemployment law judge that she was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she was not available for suitable employment due to medical and transportation problems and because she was not actively seeking suitable employment. We affirm.
Relator Christine Rannow was employed part-time by Minnesota Extended Treatment Options (METO) providing care to developmentally disabled adults at the Cambridge State Hospital from September 12, 2005, until her employment was terminated on May 9, 2006. Relator lives in an area that makes her dependent on the use of an automobile for transportation to and from work. Relator had a first-time grand mal seizure on April 4, 2006. Her neurologist told her that she would not be able to drive for six months from the date of the seizure. The last day relator attended work was April 24, 2006. Although she was scheduled to work after that, she did not report to work, in part because she was unable to get transportation to work. METO terminated her employment effective May 9, 2006, for excessive absenteeism.
Relator applied for unemployment benefits and stated in her application that she had had “no luck” getting a ride to and from work. Relator’s primary care physician completed the medical portion of the application on June 6, 2006. The doctor stated that it was medically necessary for relator to leave her employment at METO due to safety concerns; that her ability to work as of the date of the application was restricted because she could not drive, swim, climb a ladder, or work in a physically hazardous environment. The doctor could not predict how long these restrictions would apply. Respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development initially determined that relator was ineligible for unemployment benefits. Relator appealed, and an unemployment law judge (ULJ) held a de novo hearing.
During the hearing, relator testified that her seizure specialist told her on June 22, 2006, that she could work as long as she took her prescribed medication. Relator testified that the medication makes her extremely tired. She listed other side effects of the medication but it is not clear from her testimony that she actually suffers from those side effects, which include nausea and diarrhea. Relator testified that the seizure specialist confirmed that she could not drive for six months from the date of the seizure. Relator testified that she made arrangements with her husband and her sister to drive her to and from work, but her testimony also established that their availability was limited. Relator testified that she had looked for work in the newspaper and on the Internet and had applied for two jobs between June 1 and July 14. She testified that job opportunities for which she is qualified are limited in her area. Relator’s supervisor at METO testified at the hearing as well, stating that on May 1 and May 2 relator called in stating that she would not be coming to work because she could not find transportation. He also testified that relator either called in sick or was absent without notice for her remaining shifts, up to the termination of her employment.
The ULJ determined that relator was ineligible for benefits because she was not available for suitable employment, not actively seeking suitable employment, and not able to work. Relator requested reconsideration and the ULJ issued an order affirming relator’s ineligibility for benefits. This certiorari appeal followed.
In reviewing a certiorari appeal from a ULJ’s decision, this court
may affirm the decision of the unemployment law judge or remand the case for further proceedings; or it may reverse or modify the decision if the substantial rights of the petitioner may have been prejudiced because the findings, inferences, conclusion, or decision are:
(1) in violation of constitutional provisions;
(2) in excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the department;
(3) made upon unlawful procedure;
(4) affected by other error of law;
(5) unsupported by substantial evidence in view of the entire record as submitted; or
(6) arbitrary or capricious.
Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (2006). Questions of law are reviewed de novo, while findings that are supported by substantial evidence will not be disturbed. Id.; Skarhus v. Davanni’s Inc., 721 N.W.2d 340, 344 (Minn. App. 2006). An applicant for unemployment benefits is “eligible to receive unemployment benefits for any week if . . . (4) the applicant was able to work and was available for suitable employment, and was actively seeking suitable employment.” Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 1(4) (Supp. 2005).
I. Availability for work
Minnesota unemployment insurance law requires that “[a]n applicant must have transportation throughout the labor market area to be considered ‘available for suitable employment.’” Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 15(e) (2004). Relator was restricted from driving for six months from the date of her grand mal seizure in April 2006. Despite relator’s testimony that she made arrangements with her husband and sister for transportation to and from work, the evidence is undisputed that her husband and sister’s availability to provide transportation was limited, and relator was unable to get to and from her job at METO in early May. Because this evidence shows that relator lacked reliable transportation to work, the record supports the ULJ’s finding that relator was not available for suitable employment and is therefore disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
II. Actively seeking employment
Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 16 (2004) defines actively seeking suitable employment as making
[t]hose reasonable, diligent efforts an individual in similar circumstances would make if genuinely interested in obtaining suitable employment under the existing conditions in the labor market area. Limiting the search to positions that are not available or are above the applicant’s training, experience, and qualifications is not “actively seeking suitable employment.”
Relator applied for benefits on May 21, but did not start looking for work until June 1. At the time of the hearing on July 14, relator had applied for only two jobs, and her testimony made it doubtful that she was qualified for either of the positions that she applied for. Relator testified that she would like to return to work at Cambridge State Hospital if possible. Relator argues that suitable employment opportunities in her area are limited and that she has applied to as many positions as possible. Because evidence of relator’s employment search was minimal, we conclude that the record supports the ULJ’s finding that relator was not actively seeking employment as required by the statute.
III. Ability to work
Minnesota unemployment insurance law also requires that an applicant have “the physical and mental ability to perform (1) the usual duties of the applicant’s usual occupation or (2) the usual duties of work that is gainful employment engaged in by others as a means of livelihood.” Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 14 (2004). As respondent DEED concedes, the record is not clear concerning relator’s ability to work. Based on the evidence before the ULJ at the time of the initial hearing, and the lack of documentation of ability to work at the time the matter was reconsidered, it appears that the record supports the ULJ’s determination on this issue. Further, because relator was disqualified from receiving benefits due to her unavailability and failure to actively seek work, any error in this determination would not affect relator’s eligibility for benefits.
 On appeal, relator submitted a note from her neurologist confirming her ability to work as of June 22, 2006. Because this note was not submitted at the initial hearing or upon reconsideration, this court may not consider it as part of the record on appeal.