This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






Kokou Nutassey,





Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.,



Department of Employment and Economic Development,



Filed May 2, 2006


Peterson, Judge


Department of Employment & Economic Development

File No. 8342-05


Kokou Nutassey, 22 East 15th Street, Apartment 8, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (pro se relator)


Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Minneapolis Loc #891, c/o TALX Employer Services LLC, P.O. Box 1160, Columbus, OH  43216-1160 (respondent)


Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent Department of Employment & Economic Development)


Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Klaphake, Judge; and Peterson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N




Relator Kokou Nutassey challenges the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s determination that he is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because he was discharged from his employment for misconduct.  Because substantial evidence in the record supports the findings that relator committed several acts of insubordination, and his insubordinate acts constitute disqualifying misconduct, we affirm.


Nutassey was employed by respondent Wells Fargo Bank as an Operations Processor 2 from February 18, 2002, until his discharge on April 6, 2005.  He was denied unemployment benefits based on the department’s determination that he was discharged for misconduct.  After a hearing and again on Nutassey’s request for reconsideration, an unemployment law judge (ULJ) affirmed the department’s initial determination.

This court may affirm, remand for further proceedings, or reverse or modify the ULJ’s decision.[1]  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (Supp. 2005). Reversal or modification is appropriate when

the substantial rights of the petitioner may have been prejudiced because the findings, inferences, conclusion, or decision are:

(1) in violation of constitutional provisions;

(2) in excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the


(3) made upon unlawful procedure;

(4) affected by other error of law;

(5) unsupported by substantial evidence in view of the entire record

as submitted; or

(6) arbitrary or capricious.


An employee is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits when the employee has been discharged because the employee’s “intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct . . . displays clearly a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee, or . . . displays clearly a substantial lack of concern for the employment.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subds. 4(1), 6(a) (Supp. 2005). 

This court has held that an employee’s intentional refusal to perform a task is misconduct.  See, e.g., Bibeau v. Resistance Tech., Inc., 411 N.W.2d 29, 32 (Minn. App. 1987) (upholding disqualification from unemployment benefits when employee deliberately chose to disobey employer’s instructions to make quality checks because employee believed that the instruction was “stupid”); Daniels v. Gnan Trucking, 352 N.W.2d 815, 816 (Minn. App. 1984) (stating that refusal to unload truck “was a deliberate act of insubordination” justifying disqualification).

The record indicates that Nutassey’s problems in the workplace began in early December 2004, when his work director reported him for refusing to follow instructions and ignoring the work director when confronted.  Both Nutassey and the manager approached the human-resources director, Barry O’Kane, who investigated the matter.  The record contains e-mails from December 3 and 13, 2004, and March 3 and 4, 2005, that describe four separate instances of Nutassey failing to follow instructions and ignoring his work director.  The manager gave Nutassey a final written warning on March 7, 2005, which set out the four incidents, defined the term “insubordination,” and stated that a further violation could result in termination.  Nutassey was asked to sign the warning to indicate that he had read and understood its contents,[2] but he refused to sign it.

On April 1, after receiving the March 7 final warning and O’Kane’s oral warning that the situation was serious, Nutassey threw documents down on his work director’s desk.  Later in the day, his manager witnessed a second incident in which Nutassey threw a paper at his work director as he sat at his desk.  The manager went directly to his direct manager to report the incident.  On April 5, Nutassey was told that he was discharged because of the five incidents of insubordination.

Nutassey argues that the employer did not tell the full story at the hearing; that he was not insubordinate; that there was a performance and personality conflict with his manager; and that his manager and work director were overworking him to favor other employees.  Nutassey testified that “nothing happened” on April 1 and that a video tape would prove that, but he provided no video tape, and O’Kane testified that there was no video tape of the work director’s desk.  Nutassey did not address the other four incidents of insubordination, but he admitted that he refused to sign the final warning in March.

Nutassey contends that he was the victim of discrimination and that there was a performance and personality conflict with his manager.  Nutassey states that he is from West Africa, but he provided no specific examples of racial or other discrimination.  Nutassey argues that he was more productive than other employees, he initiated assignments “to help with the slowness and the laziness,” and he was happy to do “their work.”  But his discharge was not based on the general quality or quantity of Nutassey’s work; it was based on his refusal to perform work as instructed and his insubordination.  Nutassey presented no evidence indicating that his employer’s requests were improper, unreasonable, or discriminatory.

Substantial evidence supports the ULJ’s findings regarding Nutassey’s multiple acts of insubordination.  Because the insubordinate acts were a serious violation of a standard of behavior that the employer has the right to reasonably expect of Nutassey, the findings support the conclusion that Nutassey’s conduct constituted disqualifying misconduct.


[1]   The ULJ’s July 18, 2005 decision was made after the effective date for the amendment changing the standard of review for unemployment decisions.  2005 Minn. Laws ch. 112, art. 2, § 34 (stating that administrative standard of review is effective for decisions rendered on or after June 25, 2005).

[2]   Above the signature line, the warning stated: “I have received a copy of this Written Warning, have read it and understand its contents.  Signature does not necessarily imply agreement, but denotes understanding.”