may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Thomas D. Rossin,
National Lutheran Choir Corp.,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed September 30, 1997
Department of Economic Security
File No. 540 UC 97
Thomas D. Rossin, 4628 Westwood Lane, Eagan, MN 55122-4023 (relator pro se)
Christopher J. Harristhal, Larkin, Hoffman, Daly & Lindgren, Ltd., 1500 Norwest Financial Center, 7900 Xerxes Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55431-1194 (for respondent National Lutheran Choir Corp.)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Norton, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
A commissioner's representative with the Department of Economic Security concluded that Thomas Rossin was disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits because he was discharged as a result of a potential conflict of interest between his work for his employer and his involvement with another organization. We affirm.
In June 1996, Rossin and another individual began organizing a small vocal and instrumental chamber group, which they named Exultate. Exultate was intended to perform and sell recordings of chamber music. Exultate obtained a start-up loan from an individual that the NLC had previously attempted to recruit for its board of directors.
Rossin began conducting rehearsals with Exultate once a week. On three occasions, Rossin was unavailable to conduct the NLC because he was too busy. On two occasions, Rossin's supervisor expressed concern that Rossin's involvement with Exultate might constitute a conflict of interest.
During October and November 1996, Rossin was involved in planning and publicizing a set of concerts on behalf of the NLC. The concerts were not a financial success, which Rossin's supervisor believed was due, in part, to a lack of work by Rossin.
Exultate performed a Christmas program one week before NLC gave its Christmas performance. Included in Exultate's printed program was a form requesting financial support. NLC discharged Rossin shortly thereafter because of a perceived conflict of interest between his work for the NLC and for Exultate.
We have held that an employee's conduct constituted a conflict of interest, and thus misconduct, where a reasonable person should have known that the conduct was wrong. Green Tree Acceptance, Inc. v. Reed, 348 N.W.2d 387, 388 (Minn. App. 1984). We recognize that, unlike the employee in Green Tree, Rossin did not receive any compensation for his outside work, which was entirely voluntary. Nevertheless, a reasonable person should have realized the potential for a conflict of interest between Exultate and the NLC. See Rehabilitation Specialists, Inc. v. Koering, 404 N.W.2d 301, 304 (Minn. App. 1987) (stating that "employee's duty of loyalty prohibits her from soliciting the employer's customers for herself, or from otherwise competing with her employer, while she is employed").
Both the NLC and Exultate provided performance opportunities for musicians and sold recordings of their music. Some of Exultate's musicians had performed previously for the NLC.
Rossin was responsible for fundraising for the NLC. Rossin solicited a start-up loan for Exultate and (one week before the NLC's Christmas concert) included in Exultate's Christmas program a form soliciting funding. Rossin also refused to turn over to the NLC information that he had compiled for Exultate listing approximately 7,500 potential performers and contributors.
Rossin was asked on three separate occasions to conduct rehearsals with the NLC, but Rossin responded that he was too busy. During that same period of time, Rossin was conducting rehearsals with Exultate.
Considering all of the facts, we conclude that Rossin's involvement with Exultate constituted a conflict of interest and thus misconduct.