STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Victor Valley College,
Department of Economic Security,
Filed April 6, 1999
Department of Economic Security
Agency File No. 5252 UC 98
Ronald Ficek, 16950 Jasmine, #114, Victorville, CA 92392 (pro se relator)
Victor Valley College, 601 North E Street, San Beradino, CA 92410 (pro se respondent); and
Earl Wilson, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.
Relator employee argues that the commissioner's representative improperly determined that he was on a voluntary leave of absence and therefore ineligible to receive benefits. We reverse.
Ficek filed for reemployment insurance and was denied benefits because his leave was "voluntary." Ficek then appealed the adjudicator's decision to the commissioner's representative, but was again denied reemployment benefits.
A claimant shall not be eligible to receive benefits for any week in which the claimant is on a "voluntary leave of absence." Minn. Stat. § 268.08, subd. 2(4) (Supp. 1997). The commissioner's representative determined that Ficek was on voluntary leave because he could return to work after he obtained a physician's release, and he neither quit nor was he discharged from his position. The commissioner's representative determined that Ficek's leave was voluntary because (1) he continues to enjoy the benefits of employment and (2) he chose not to quit his employment.
We disagree. Ficek was not given a choice. The physician ordered his leave of absence that was further extended by his employer's own psychiatrist. The commissioner's representative determined that Ficek could return to work after he obtained a physician's release. Ficek did not have the choice simply to come back to work. When both the employee's and his employer's respective physicians' order a leave of absence, the leave of absence is not voluntary as a matter of law. Because Ficek's leave was not voluntary, he is not disqualified from receiving benefits under Minn. Stat. § 268.08, subd. 2(4).