This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






Denise H. Norby,





City of Isle,



Department of Employment and Economic Development,



Filed ­­­August 29, 2006


Dietzen, Judge


Department of Employment and Economic Development

Agency File No. 1133705


Denise H. Norby, 26651 Riverview Drive, Mora, MN 55051 (relator pro se)


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


City of Isle, P.O. Box 427, Isle, MN 56342-0427 (respondent employer)


            Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Ross, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N




            By writ of certiorari, relator challenges the decision of the unemployment law judge (ULJ) that she was discharged for employment misconduct and is therefore disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.  Because substantial evidence supports the ULJ’s finding that relator engaged in employment misconduct, we affirm. 



Relator Denise H. Norby was employed full time by the City of Isle as manager of its municipal liquor store from August 2004 until June 21, 2005, when the city council terminated her employment for neglect of duties and insubordination. 

            Relator applied for unemployment benefits with respondent Department of Employment and Economic Security (DEED), and DEED determined that she was not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.  Relator’s employer appealed DEED’s determination, and a hearing was held before a ULJ. 

            At the hearing, the employer presented five witnesses, including council member Cinthia Bailey, mayor Michael DeCoursey, clerk deputy Lori Robinson, clerk treasurer LuAnn Sawatzky, and the mayor’s wife Elizabeth DeCoursey, all of whom either directly supervised or worked closely with relator.  The witnesses testified that relator mishandled funds by failing to keep daily balances of liquor store funds, by submitting erroneous monthly reports, by co-mingling lottery money and ATM money, and by maintaining excessive amounts of money in the cash registers.  Her supervisors testified that relator was sent home on one occasion when they discovered during a liquor store visit that relator had left $700 of lottery money unsecured on top of the safe, the ATM contained funds in excess of $520, and the cash registers exceeded the maximum amount by $1,360.  Witnesses also testified that for many months relator ignored supervisors’ requests that she implement “touchscreens” on store computers, institute computerized credit-card tips and timecards, and visit beer displays at other stores in anticipation of changes to be made at the liquor store. 

            The employer also entered into evidence two written warnings that relator had received during her employment.  The first warning indicated “substandard work in regards to the monthly reports, budget reports, and year-to-date reports” and relegated relator’s reporting duties to the city clerk.  A second warning cited relator’s lack of knowledge of “total funds kept on hand,” failure to obtain a personnel policy handbook, and refusal to initiate managerial duties. 

            Relator testified that she generally complied with employer directions and that she properly deposited funds and maintained cash registers.  Appellant admitted that she had improperly co-mingled lottery money with ATM money on two occasions and that she had failed to visit beer displays as requested “[b]ecause I didn’t think it was that important.” 

            The ULJ found that relator had mishandled employer funds and engaged in insubordination that displayed “a serious disregard of the City’s interest and of standards of behavior they had a right to expect of [relator] as an employee[.]”  The ULJ concluded that relator was discharged because of employment misconduct and, therefore, was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.  Relator requested reconsideration, and the ULJ affirmed the decision.  This certiorari appeal follows. 


Relator challenges the ULJ’s decision, arguing that the finding that she engaged in employment misconduct is unsupported by the evidence.  On review of the ULJ’s decision, we may affirm, remand for further proceedings, or reverse or modify the decision.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (Supp. 2005).  Reversal or modification is appropriate when relator’s substantial rights were prejudiced because the findings, inferences, conclusion, or decision are affected by error of law or unsupported by substantial evidence.  Id. (setting out standard of review for ULJ decisions issued on or after June 25, 2005).

            A person who is discharged from employment because of employment misconduct is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (Supp. 2005).  Employment misconduct means “any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job (1) that displays clearly a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee, or (2) that displays clearly a substantial lack of concern for the employment.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(a) (2004).  Employment misconduct does not include “inefficiency, inadvertence, simple unsatisfactory conduct, a single incident that does not have a significant adverse impact on the employer, conduct an average reasonable employee would have engaged in under the circumstances, poor performance because of inability or incapacity, good faith errors in judgment if judgment was required, or absence because of illness or injury with proper notice to the employer[.]”  Id. 

            Here, witnesses who supervised or worked closely with relator testified that she repeatedly ignored employer requests and mishandled funds.  And relator admitted that she improperly co-mingled ATM and lottery funds and declined to visit beer displays as directed by her employer.  While relator argues that she offered testimony contradicting the version of events offered by other witnesses, this court defers to the credibility determinations made by the fact-finder.  Jenson v. Dep’t of Econ. Sec., 617 N.W.2d 627, 631 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. Dec. 20, 2000).  Consequently, substantial evidence supports the ULJ’s findings that relator committed acts of insubordination and money mishandling.  

            Furthermore, the particular acts committed by relator constitute disqualifying employment misconduct as a matter of law.  This court has held that a “pattern of failing to follow policies and procedures and ignoring directions and requests” is misconduct.  Gilkeson v. Indus. Parts & Serv., Inc., 383 N.W.2d 448, 452 (Minn. App. 1986).  And an employer has a right to expect “scrupulous adherence” to procedure when handling employer funds, and failure to do so shows a substantial disregard for the employer’s interests and for the employee’s duties and obligations to her employer.  McDonald v. PDQ, 341 N.W.2d 892, 893 (Minn. App. 1984).  Because the record amply supports the ULJ’s findings that relator ignored employer requests and mishandled funds, and the findings support the conclusion that relator was discharged for misconduct, the ULJ properly determined that relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.