may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Carol M. Raasch,
New Beginnings of Starbuck, Inc.,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed October 7, 1997
Department of Economic Security
File No. 23 UC 97
Neil R. Tangen, P.O. Box 758, Starbuck, MN 56381 (for Relator)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Parker, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Short, Judge.
Relator Carol Raasch disputes the commissioner's decision that she is disqualified from receiving reemployment benefits because of misconduct involving violations of established rules and policies. We affirm.
In February 1996, respondent established a policy that no employee could use the "Hoyer" lift alone in the absence of an emergency. Relator attended a staff meeting where respondent explained the policy, and she signed a form acknowledging her understanding of the rule. Several months later, relator used the "Hoyer" lift alone while moving a resident out of her bathtub, a situation that was not emergent.
Respondent also had a well-established policy that caregivers should not put residents to bed before 8:00 p.m. In November 1996, relator put at least one resident to bed before 8:00 p.m.
Upon discharge, the former employee normally is entitled to reemployment insurance benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.08 (1996). Reemployment insurance benefits are humanitarian in nature and the governing statutes should be liberally construed. McGowan, 420 N.W.2d at 595. A claimant is disqualified from benefits if discharged for misconduct that interferes with or adversely affects employment. Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1(b) (1996).
A misconduct determination can occur only when the employer shows (1) a willful and wanton disregard of an employer's interest, such as deliberate violation or disregard for standards that the employer has the right to expect; or (2) "carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence as to manifest equal culpability, wrongful intent or evil design or to show an intentional or substantial disregard of the employer's interests or of the employee's duties and obligations to his employer." Tilseth v. Midwest Lumber Co., 295 Minn. 372, 374, 204 N.W.2d 644, 646 (1973) (holding inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, inability to perform duties, isolated acts of negligence, and good faith errors in judgment was not misconduct).
Misconduct includes the deliberate refusal to carry out a reasonable directive of the employer. McGowan, 420 N.W.2d at 595-96. A single incident where an employee deliberately chooses a course of action adverse to the employer can constitute misconduct. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 524. Also, the safety of patients is of particular importance to the courts, and a higher standard of care exists for health care providers. Id. at 525 (stating that the medical field is one unique area of employment law where strict compliance with rules is required).
Relator first argues that one person's use of the stationary "Hoyer" lift, unlike use of a mobile "Hoyer" unit, was permissible. She argues this was an exception to the rule that was commonly known among the employees. But a number of months prior to realtor's unaided use of the device, respondent implemented the policy that in no case, short of a life-threatening emergency, could an employee use any "Hoyer" lift alone. Respondent disseminated this written policy at a staff meeting, and relator signed an acknowledgment of the new policy. There is no evidence that conversations about any exception to this rule occurred after this meeting and acknowledgement.
Relator also contends that in putting a resident to bed early she did not willfully or wantonly disregard the employer's interests, but exercised her judgment in good faith. Relator argues she put only one resident to bed early, claiming that after she bathed the resident it was nearly 8:00 p.m. so she thought it was best to put him to bed instead of dressing him for a short period and then preparing him for bed. But relator was told a number of times of respondent's policy against putting residents to bed before 8:00 p.m. Because all residents at respondent's facility were wheel chair bound and required repositioning, this policy was implemented to ensure that the residents were not in any one position for a great length of time. Relator's choice to put one or more residents to bed constituted a deliberate violation of a reasonable policy. See McGowan, 420 N.W.2d at 595-96 (finding misconduct where an employee deliberately refused to carry out a reasonable directive of the employer). The commissioner did not err in determining that relator committed misconduct by violating respondent's policies.