This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Mona C. Quern,
Wells Fargo Bank NA,
Department of Employment and
Filed July 17, 2007
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 7524 06
Mona C. Quern, 10109 Pillsbury Ave South, Bloomington, MN 55420 (pro se relator)
Wells Fargo Bank NA, c/o Talx Employer Services, LLC, P.O. Box 1160, Columbus, OH 43216-1160 (respondent)
Linda A. Holmes, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 1st National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent Department)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
Pro se relator Mona C. Quern challenges a decision by an unemployment law judge (ULJ) that affirms on reconsideration an earlier decision that relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she was discharged by her employer, respondent Wells Fargo Bank NA, for employment misconduct. The ULJ determined that relator, who was employed as a customer service representative, committed misconduct by repeatedly refusing to advise customers of her employer’s Promise to Pay policy, which required her to ask customers when a payment would be sent or made, where the funds for the payment would be obtained, and the reason for the delay in making the payment. On certiorari appeal, relator claims that she is entitled to unemployment benefits because she was improperly terminated without a final, written warning as required by the employee handbook.
Because the issue before the ULJ was not whether relator was properly terminated but whether she committed misconduct under the unemployment compensation laws, and because the ULJ’s decision is otherwise reasonably supported by the evidence, we affirm.
court reviews the ULJ’s decision to determine whether the findings, inferences,
conclusion, or decision are “unsupported by substantial evidence in view of the
entire record as submitted” or “arbitrary or capricious.” Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d)(5)
(2006). Whether an employee has
committed a particular act requires a ULJ to make factual findings and
credibility determinations to which we accord great deference on appeal. Skarhus
v. Davanni’s Inc., 721 N.W.2d 340, 344 (Minn. App. 2006). But whether an act constitutes employment
misconduct involves a question of law, which we review de novo.
It is relatively undisputed that relator received at least two warnings from her immediate supervisor regarding her refusal to follow the employer’s Promise to Pay policy. Relator, who was trained in the policy, refused to follow it because she believed that it could be used against a debtor who made a promise to pay and failed to honor that promise. Relator also was warned by her supervisor that some of her actions in criticizing a quality-control monitor and in “rolling” her eyes at her supervisor constituted insubordination that could lead to termination of her employment. Relator was terminated after review of one of her calls indicated that she again had failed to follow the Promise to Pay policy.
On certiorari appeal here, relator asserts that her employer improperly terminated her without a final written warning, which relator claims was required by the employee handbook. As the department notes, however, the issue before the ULJ was not whether relator was properly terminated or whether her employer properly followed its own procedures in terminating relator, but whether relator’s actions constituted employment misconduct under the terms of the unemployment compensation statutes. See McCourtney v. Imprimis Tech., Inc., 465 N.W.2d 721, 724 (Minn. App. 1991). In addition, a reading of the handbook shows that the employer has discretion to terminate an employee and that there is no set progressive disciplinary procedure that the employer must follow if the employer finds it necessary to “escalate the process” and “terminate employment without implementing . . . corrective action.” We therefore reject relator’s claim that she is entitled to unemployment benefits because her employer failed to give her a final written warning before deciding to terminate her.
also conclude that the record reasonably supports the ULJ’s determination that
relator is disqualified from receiving benefits because she was discharged for
employment misconduct. Employment misconduct
is defined as “any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on 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). An employer has a
right to expect that its employees will abide by reasonable policies and
procedures. McGowan v. Executive Exp. Transp. Enter., Inc., 420 N.W.2d 592, 596
The ULJ here concluded:
Wells Fargo has a right to reasonably expect that its employees will not be insubordinate and will follow all policies and procedures. In this case, the evidence shows that [relator] disagreed with Wells Fargo’s Promise to Pay policy and made her feelings known to her supervisor[.] [Relator] used inappropriate and unprofessional comments in her emails to [her supervisor] regarding the policy. The evidence also shows that [relator] rolled her eyes at [her supervisor] and made unprofessional comments about another employee. [Relator] received a verbal and written warning for her behavior and should have known that failing to follow the Promise to Pay policy could result in termination. Although [relator] testified that she simply forgot to ask a customer during a call on March 21, 2006 when the payment would be made or how the funds would be obtained, the evidence shows that [relator’s] testimony is not credible. The evidence shows that [relator] immediately questioned the policy after being notified that she failed to ask the proper questions to the customer and that she intentionally did not ask the questions because she felt the policy did more harm to the homeowners than good. [Relator’s] conduct displayed clearly a serious violation of the standards of behavior that Wells Fargo had a right to reasonably expect from its employees and displayed clearly a substantial lack of concern for the employment.
Relator admits that she “may [have been] at fault in forgetting to ask for a promise to pay.” Because relator was warned several times and intentionally chose to disregard those warnings, and because the employer’s requirement that relator follow its policy appears reasonable, we affirm the decision of the ULJ that relator committed employment misconduct.