This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).




Robert F. Medek,

St. Peter Church and School,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,


Filed November 13, 2007


Klaphake, Judge


Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 1146906



Robert F. Medek, 5900 Wyoming Trial, Wyoming, MN  55092 (pro se relator)


St. Peter Church and School, 1250 South Shore Drive, Forest Lake, MN  55092 (respondent)


Lee B. Nelson, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 1st National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN  55101-1351 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Klaphake, Judge; and Wright, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Pro se relator Robert F. Medek challenges a decision by an unemployment law judge (ULJ) affirming an earlier decision that relator quit employment without good reason caused by the employer and was therefore disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.  Relator, who had been receiving unemployment benefits for his prior work in the steel fabrication industry, accepted a job with respondent St. Peter Church & School (St. Peter) as a maintenance supervisor, but quit because he lacked computer skills necessary for the work.  Because relator informed St. Peter that he wished to quit the unsuitable work within the period required by statute and, at St. Peter’s request, continued to work until the position could be filled, we reverse.


            Appellate courts review a ULJ’s decision to determine whether the substantial rights of the relator 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).

            We review findings of fact in the light most favorable to the ULJ’s decision and give deference to the ULJ’s credibility determinations.  Skarhus v. Davanni’s Inc., 721 N.W.2d 340, 344 (Minn. App. 2006).  We independently review questions of law, however.  Scheeler v. Sartell Water Controls, Inc., 730 N.W.2d 285, 287-88 (Minn. App. 2007).  Application of a statute to undisputed facts is a legal conclusion that we review de novo.  Harrison ex rel Harrison v. Harrison, 733 N.W.2d 451, 453 (Minn. 2007).

            The “public purpose” of Minnesota’s unemployment insurance program is to provide temporary financial support to workers who lose their jobs “through no fault of their own.” Minn. Stat. § 268.03, subd. 1 (Supp. 2005).  Generally, an applicant who voluntarily quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, unless an exception applies.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (Supp. 2005).  But if an “applicant quit the employment within 30 calendar days of beginning the employment because the employment was unsuitable for the applicant,” the applicant is eligible for benefits.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(3).  Consistent with the unemployment statute’s purpose, this provision allows an applicant who loses a job to attempt a new job outside of his or her usual field of work.  Id.  And if the new work proves to be unsuitable, an applicant can quit within 30 calendar days and still be eligible for unemployment benefits.  Id.  This unsuitable-work exception encourages those who are unemployed to try new lines of work to become reemployed.  Cf. Valenty v. Med. Concepts Dev., Inc., 503 N.W.2d 131, 134-35 (Minn. 1993) (reasoning that it is against public policy to disqualify from receiving unemployment benefits people who temporarily try jobs outside their normal line of work).[1]

            Here, relator was employed in the steel fabrication industry for almost 30 years.  When relator’s company relocated, he lost his job and began receiving benefits in November 2005.

            On April 10, 2006, relator began working for St. Peter as a maintenance supervisor.  Shortly after beginning work, relator realized that the position was unsuitable because he did not have the computer skills required for maintaining St. Peter’s computerized maintenance records.  Relator also stated that his lack of experience with floor care also contributed to the job being unsuitable.  Because he neither knew what floor care was necessary nor how to distribute this work to those he supervised, it is undisputed that, from early on in the employment, relator knew that he was unqualified for this job.  Relator testified and the ULJ found that at the beginning of May 2006 relator requested to be replaced.  Relator also indicated that within three weeks of starting, he talked to his supervisors about quitting.  It was only at St. Peter’s request that relator continued to work until a replacement could be found.  Both relator and St. Peter agreed that finding relator’s replacement took longer than expected, and St. Peter was “extremely grateful” that relator agreed to stay on.  It is clear from this record that the work was unsuitable and that relator intended to quit and so informed his employer within the 30-day statutory period.  We therefore conclude that relator should not be disqualified from receiving benefits.


[1] Shortly after the supreme court’s Valenty decision, the unsuitable-work exception became effective.  1993 Minn. Laws ch. 67, § 5, at 224; see also Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1(c)(10) (Supp. 1993).