may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
James N. Saydee,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed May 4, 1999
Department of Economic Security
File No. 2014 UC 98
Tecnifoam, Inc., 7145 Boone Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55428 (pro se respondent)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Davies, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Foley, Judge.
Relator seeks review of respondent commissioner's representative's conclusion that he was ineligible for reemployment insurance benefits due to his status as a full-time student. Because relator is ineligible to receive reemployment insurance benefits under Minn. Stat. § 268.08, subd. 2, we affirm.
Relator James Saydee worked as a machine operator and assembler for respondent employer Tecnifoam from March 1993 through October 18, 1997, when he was discharged. He applied for reemployment insurance benefits following his discharge.
Relator began a full-time course of study in sociology at North Hennepin Community College on January 5, 1998. Relator possessed a master's degree in Christian education, and he thought taking sociology courses would balance his career.
A reemployment insurance adjudicator determined relator was not eligible for benefits because he was a full-time student, he had not been in school during the preceding year, and was not in a commission-approved training program. A reemployment insurance judge affirmed the adjudicator's decision. Relator appealed the decision, claiming he was actively seeking work while enrolled as a full-time student. A commissioner's representative affirmed the reemployment judge's decision. Relator challenges the commissioner's representative's decision, arguing that he was available for employment during the time he was attending school full time and, therefore, he should not have been found ineligible to receive benefits.
A decision by the commissioner's representative on whether a claimant is eligible for reemployment insurance benefits will be upheld if it is "reasonably supported by the evidence." Honeywell, Inc. v. Hoyhtya, 400 N.W.2d 818, 821 (Minn. App. 1987). Factual findings will be upheld if the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the decision, reasonably tends to sustain them. White v. Metropolitan Medical Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). But this court need give no deference to the commissioner's representative's legal conclusions. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
Minn. Stat. § 268.08, subd. 2 (Supp. 1997), provides in relevant part:
A claimant shall not be eligible to receive benefits for any week:
* * * *
(2) which occurs in a period when the claimant is a full-time student in attendance at, or on vacation from an established school, college, or university unless a majority of the claimant's wages paid during the 52 weeks preceding the establishment of a reemployment insurance account were for services performed during weeks that the claimant was attending school as a full-time student[.]
The statute "creates an irrebuttable presumption that a [full-time] student is not available for work and is, therefore, not eligible for unemployment compensation * * *." Shreve v. Minnesota Dep't of Econ. Sec., 283 N.W.2d 506, 508 (Minn. 1979). There is an exception to this rule for a student who is in an approved training program. Minn. Stat. § 268.08, subd. 1(2) (Supp. 1997) (applicant ineligible for benefits if not in commission-approved training program). Training shall be approved where "reasonable and suitable work opportunities for which the individual is fitted by training, experience, and physical capabilities do not exist in the individual's locality." Minn. R. 3310.5800, subp. 2A (1997).
The commissioner's representative found relator had failed to show his educational program was approved training because relator provided no evidence that work was unavailable as a machine operator or in assembly--areas in which relator had experience. In fact, relator never claimed or argued such work was unavailable. The employee has the burden of proving eligibility for reemployment insurance benefits. Decker v. City Pages, Inc., 540 N.W.2d 544, 547 (Minn. App. 1995). Relator failed to meet that burden.
Relator also argues it is unfair for the commissioner to conclude that he was ineligible because his case manager was aware of his full-time student status. But the legislature has, in its discretion, determined that full-time students are not eligible for benefits under most circumstances. While this classification excludes relator from benefits, it is not without a rational basis.
In a world of limited resources, a State may legitimately extend unemployment only to those who are willing to maximize their employment benefits potential by not restricting their availability during the day by attending school. Moreover, the classification serves as a predictable and convenient means for distinguishing between those who are likely to be students primarily and part-time workers only secondarily and thus ineligible for unemployment compensation and those who are primarily full-time workers and students only secondarily without the necessity of making costly individual eligibility determinations which would deplete available resources.
Shreve, 283 N.W.2d at 508 (quoting Idaho Dep't of Employment v. Smith, 434 U.S. 100, 101, 98 S. Ct. 327, 328 (1977)). Furthermore, respondent Tecnifoam should not be required to finance relator's education through its reemployment insurance premiums absent any evidence machine operator and assembly jobs were unavailable. See Minn. R. 3310.5800, subp. 2A. The commissioner's representative properly applied the law to the undisputed facts of this case.
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 Shreve interpreted Minn. Stat. § 268.08, subd. 1(3) (1978), a predecessor to the current statute.