Briefs filed in Mario S. Vargas, Relator, vs. Northwest Area Foundation, Respondent, vs. Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

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Minnesota Appellate Court Issues in Briefs

Shown here are the statements of the issues presented for review by the appellate courts in the briefs filed for this case. The entire brief set can be found at the State Law Library and other libraries around the state. See Minnesota Appellate Court Briefs Collection for more information.

CASE NAME:  Mario S. Vargas, Relator, vs. Northwest Area Foundation, Respondent, vs. Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.
        Read the opinion in this case at A03-498
        CITATION:  673 N.W.2d 200 (Minn.App. 2004)

Legal Issues in APPELLANT'S BRIEF AND APPENDIX:
  • Whether the petitioner, Mario Vargas, committed employment misconduct while working for Northwest Area Foundation, disqualifying him from unemployment benefits. The Minnesota Department of Economic Security, Judge Gunderson, found that the Petitioner was discharged from his employment due to employment misconduct. Claimant appealed and the decision was affirmed by Keith E. Goodwin, Representative of the Commissioner. The Minnesota supreme court in In re Claim of Tilseth, 204 N.W.2d 644, 646 (Minn. 1973), cited with approval the defmition of misconduct set out by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Boynton Cab Co. v. Neubeck, 237 Wis. 249, 259, 296 N.W. 636, 640 (1941): "(T)he intended meaning of the term 'misconduct' is limited to conduct evincing such wilful or wanton disregard of an employer's interests as is found in deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of his employee, or in carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence as to manifest equal culpability, wrongful intent or evil design, or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer's interests or of the employee's duties and obligations to his employer. On the other hand mere inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, failure in good performance as the result of inability or incapacity, inadvertencies or ordinary negligence in isolated instances, or good-faith errors in judgment or discretion are not to be deemed 'misconduct."'
  • Whether there is substantial evidence in record to support the finding that Mr. Vargas committed employment misconduct. The determination that an employee committed misconduct is a mixed question of fact and law. A reviewing court will affirm if the findings of fact are "not without support in the evidence" and if the conclusion on those facts is not contrary to the statutory mandate. See Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., 346 N.W.2d 159, 161 (Minn. 1984).

    Legal Issues in RESPONDENT NORTHWEST AREA FOUNDATION'S BRIEF AND APPENDIX:

  • Did the Relator's refusal to cooperate in a performance improvement plan constitute employee misconduct that disqualified him from receiving unemployment benefits? The Commissioner determined that Relator committed employment misconduct and was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Most apposite statutes: Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4 (2002) Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6 (2002) Most apposite cases: Houston v. International Data Transfer Corp., 645 N.W.2d 144 (Minn. 2002) Schmidgall v. FilmTec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801 (Minn. 2002) Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn.1995) Sandstrom v. Douglas Mach. Corp., 372 N.W.2d 89 (Minn. Ct. App. 1985)

    Legal Issues in RESPONDENT-COMMISSIONER'S BRIEF AND APPENDIX:

  • Northwest Area Foundation became concerned with Mario Vargas's job performance, in particular his communication skills, attendance record, use of the work credit card, and friction with other employees. Vargas, on the other hand, claimed that he was the victim of a hostile work environment, race discrimination, and retaliation for complaining about it. When the Foundation decided (1) to investigate Vargas's complaints, and (2) to take steps to improve his job performance with a performance improvement plan, did Vargas commit employment misconduct by refusing to participate in the employer's performance improvement plan aimed at improving his unsatisfactory job performance? The commissioner's representative, Keith E. Goodwin, decided that Vargas's conduct amounted to employment misconduct because he intentionally did not cooperate with the Foundation's performance improvement plan to deal with his performance issues. Most apposite statutes: Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4 (2002) Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6 (2002) Most apposite cases, not to exceed four: Houston v. International Data Transfer Corp., 645 N.W.2d 144 (Minn. 2002) Schmidgall v. FilmTec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801 (Minn. 2002) Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, (Minn. 1995)

    Legal Issues in REPLY BRIEF OF APPELLANT:

  • Mario Vargas did not commit employment misconduct. Mr. Vargas did nothing intentional to disregard his employer's standard of behavior. Mr. Vargas did not disregard the employee's duties and obligation to the employer.
  • The evidence was insufficient to support the finding that Mr. Vargas committed employment misconduct.


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