may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Zahra Y. Ahmed,
Quality Staffing Solutions,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed April 20, 1999
Department of Economic Security
File No. 4791 UC 98
Valerie K. Doherty, Quality Staffing Solutions, 7625 Parklawn Ave., Edina, MN 55435 (respondent employer pro se)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent commissioner)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.[*]
Relator Zahra Y. Ahmed seeks review of a decision by the commissioner's representative that she is not entitled to back reemployment insurance benefits for the periods from July 27 through December 13, 1997, and from March 22 through April 4, 1998, because she failed to timely file continued claims for benefits during those periods. See Minn. Stat. § 268.08, subd. 1(1) (Supp. 1997); Minn. R. 3305.1100 (1997).
Because the record establishes good cause for Ahmed's failure to timely file continued claims for benefits, we reverse.
A reemployment benefits claimant must make a continued claim in person, by mail, by telephone, or by electronic transmission as the commissioner shall require. Minn. Stat. § 268.08, subd. 1(1) (Supp. 1997). The commissioner "may by rule adopt other requirements for a continued claim." Id. One rule adopted by the commissioner states, in pertinent part:
Any individual who for good cause fails to file a continued claim in the manner and at the time and place specified by the department may file the claim in person or by mail not more than 35 days following the expiration of his benefit year. The claimant, if otherwise eligible, shall be entitled to waiting period credit or benefits for each week that good cause for failure to report is established.
Minn. R. 3305.1100, subp. 9 (1997).
A claimant has the burden to prove eligibility for benefits. Ykovchick v. Public Schs., 251 N.W.2d 626, 628 (Minn. 1977); Decker v. City Pages, Inc., 540 N.W.2d 544, 547 (Minn. App. 1995). The issue here involves whether Ahmed has shown "good cause" for her failure to timely file continued claims.
Although "good cause" is not defined in rule 3305.1100, the reemployment insurance statute uses the term in other context. See, e.g., Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1(a) (Supp. 1997) (if employee voluntarily quits but can show "good cause attributable to the employer," employee not disqualified from receiving benefits). In that context, an employee has demonstrated good cause to quit if the employee's reasons are real, substantial, and reasonable. Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976).
In this case, Ahmed stopped reporting and claiming benefits while her appeals from the department's July 18, 1997 determination were pending. For various reasons, including a question about the timeliness of the appeal and a subsequent question as to whether the appeal had been withdrawn, a decision was not issued on Ahmed's appeal until March 1998. A question was then raised as to whether Ahmed had refused an offer of reemployment in July 1997. In April 1998, the department determined that this issue had been decided in Ahmed's favor in the March 1998 decision.
During these appeals, the department mailed several documents to Ahmed, all of which advised her in boiler-plate language to continue filing claims. Ahmed claims that she did not know that she was required to file continued claims and that she was confused by the complexities of the reemployment insurance system.
Ahmed's poor English skills directly affected her ability to understand that system and the department's directions. The transcript of the hearing demonstrates that Ahmed, a recent Somalian immigrant, had difficulty understanding the proceedings. When she appealed the judge's decision, Ahmed specifically requested an interpreter. Although this request was made after the hearing, it should have been obvious to department personnel that Ahmed was having difficulty understanding the process.
The actions of the department further contributed to Ahmed's confusion. Even the commissioner's representative characterized the delay between the filing of Ahmed's July 1997 appeal and the March 1998 decision as "unusually long." Ahmed also claims that she received misinformation from the department as to her responsibilities and that she was repeatedly instructed by department personnel that she did not need to continue to file for benefits while her appeals were pending. Ahmed further claims that when she was finally told that she had to file continued claims, she did so.
Ahmed's explanation and reasons for failing to file continued claims are real, substantial, and reasonable. We therefore conclude that Ahmed has established good cause for her failure to timely file continued claims for benefits.
The decision of the commissioner's representative is reversed.
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 Both parties discuss Gurewitz v. Commissioner of Jobs & Training, 444 N.W.2d 299, 301 (Minn. App. 1989). That case, however, is not helpful because it did not involve whether good cause was shown under rule 3305.1100. Rather, this court specifically refused to apply rule 3305.1100 in Gurewitz, because it involved the department's redetermination of benefits almost two years after the claim was filed under Minn. Stat. § 268.10, subd. 2 (1988).