This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).






 Gregory C. Dalton,

Highway 18 Collision Center, Inc.,

Department of Employment and Economic Development,


Filed November 13, 2007


Crippen, Judge*


 Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 1077706


Gregory C. Dalton, 22481 County Road 1, Emily, MN  56447 (pro se relator)


Highway 18 Collision Center, Inc., 13587 Trails End Lane, Brainerd, MN  56401 (respondent)


Lee B. Nelson, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 1st National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN  55101-1351 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Worke, Judge; and Crippen, Judge. 

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Relator Gregory C. Dalton challenges the unemployment law judge’s decision that he is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because he was discharged by his employer, respondent Highway 18 Collision Center, Inc., for employment misconduct.  Because the evidence reasonably supports the disqualification decision, we affirm.


            Relator worked as the office manager for respondent from November 26, 2004 until July 15, 2006.  Respondent is owned by Mike and Cathy Abrahamson.

            In January 2006, relator was verbally warned after another employee reported that he had made disparaging and inappropriate comments about the Abrahamsons to fellow employees and to vendors visiting the company for business purposes.  Relator received another warning in May 2006, after he approached a secretary who worked in the office with a help-wanted ad from another business that did work similar to that done by respondent.

            On July 13, 2006, Mike Abrahamson received a call from a vendor who stated that relator had made a comment that respondent was having financial problems after Abrahamson had improperly taken a business loan and used it to remodel his home.  Abrahamson suspended relator for one week for this comment.

            During the week that relator was suspended, Abrahamson discovered that relator had offered a customer an unauthorized discount of ten percent if she paid cash, which would have cost the business more than $260, and that relator had released a vehicle with an outstanding balance on the bill of more than $225, which was contrary to company policy.  Abrahamson also discovered a number of completed estimates that relator had failed to call and schedule; when Abrahanson contacted the customers, he was informed that they had been waiting for a call from relator to schedule their repairs.

            Relator returned to the office on July 24, 2006, after his one-week suspension.  Relator claimed that the Abrahamsons met him at the door and handed him a box of his personal belongings; he further claimed that he believed his job was no longer available to him.  The Abrahamsons claimed that relator simply packed up his belongings and left, without saying anything.

            An adjudicator with the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) determined that relator quit his employment and was disqualified from receiving benefits.  An unemployment law judge (ULJ) similarly determined that relator was disqualified, but on different grounds:  the ULJ determined that relator did not quit, but was discharged for employment misconduct.


            Relator argues that the ULJ’s decision is not supported by the record.  We review the decision of a ULJ to determine whether the factual findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record or the decision is affected by legal error.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (2006).

            The ULJ determined that relator did not quit his employment, but that he was discharged.[1]  The issue of whether an employee quit employment or was discharged is a question of fact.  Midland Elec., Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 812 (Minn. App. 1985).  We view the ULJ’s factual findings in the light most favorable to the decision and defer to credibility determinations made by the ULJ.  Skarhus v. Davanni’s Inc., 721 N.W.2d 340, 344 (Minn. App. 2006).

            At the hearing before the ULJ, relator testified that when he returned to work on July 24, 2006, following his one-week suspension, the Abrahamsons handed him a box of his personal belongings.  Relator testified that he assumed he no longer had a job at Highway 18.  This evidence adequately supports the ULJ’s finding that relator was discharged.  See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subds. 2, 5 (2006) (defining “discharge” as occurring “when any words of actions by an employer would lead a reasonable employee to believe that the employer will no longer allow the employee to work for the employer in any capacity,” and defining “quit” as “when the decision to end the employment was, at the time the employment ended, the employee’s”).

            While the Abrahamsons denied that they were going to fire relator and claimed that he quit when he came into the office, packed his belongings, and left, the ULJ was entitled to reject their testimony and to accept relator’s testimony about the sequence of events that day and about his belief that he was no longer employed.  The evidence thus reasonably supports the ULJ’s finding that relator was discharged from his employment.

            A discharged employee is disqualified from receiving benefits if he commits employment misconduct.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (2006).  The issue of whether an employee committed employment misconduct is a mixed question of fact and law:  whether or not the employee committed a particular act is a fact question, but whether that act constitutes misconduct is a question of law.  Schmidgall v. FilmTech Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002); Scheuemann v. Radisson S. Hotel, 562 N.W.2d 32, 34 (Minn. App. 1997).

            The record includes evidence supporting the ULJ’s findings on relator’s disparaging comments about the Abrahamsons, his encouragement for a fellow employee’s job search, and on his surrender of a repaired auto from the premises without payment of sums due.  Similarly, there is evidence in the record to support the ULJ’S further finding that relator gave an unwarranted discount on a bill and failed to call back customers who had had estimates done several months earlier. 

            We must review the ULJ’s determination that relator’s actions constitute employment misconduct so as to disqualify relator from receiving unemployment benefits.  Employment misconduct is defined as “any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct” that “displays clearly” either (1) “a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee,” or (2) “a substantial lack of concern for the employment.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(a) (2006).

            The behavior engaged in by relator was contrary to his employer’s interests:  relator was the office manager and had an obligation to protect his employer’s reputation and business.  His disparaging comments to other employees and to persons outside the business displayed a violation of standards the employer had a right to expect him to follow.  His conduct in failing to properly bill and collect for services provided to customers represents a further violation of his employer’s interests.  And his failure to timely call customers with estimates again violated the standards his employer had a right to expect from him.  Under these circumstances, the ULJ did not err in determining that relator committed disqualifying misconduct.

            We affirm the decision of the ULJ.







* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1]  Much of relator’s brief is dedicated to the argument that the ULJ’s decision is flawed or incorrect because it is contrary to that of the DEED adjudicator.  But the decisions of a DEED adjudicator and a ULJ need not be consistent.  The ULJ conducts a de novo review of the decision of a DEED adjudicator.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 1 (2006).  This court reviews only the decision of the ULJ, not that of the DEED adjudicator.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d).  Thus, the fact that the decisions of the DEED adjudicator and the ULJ are inconsistent is not a basis to reverse the ULJ.