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Nordeen v. Spectators

September 2, 2003

ALLISON P. NORDEEN, RELATOR,
v.
SPECTATORS, RESPONDENT, COMMISSIONER OF EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, RESPONDENT.



Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Halbrooks, Judge

Affirmed

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Relator challenges the decision of the commissioner's representative disqualifying her from receiving unemployment benefits. Because the commissioner's representative's decision that relator was not able to work is reasonably supported by the evidence in the record, we affirm.

FACTS

In late 2001, relator Allison Nordeen began working part-time as a bartender for KFBC Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Spectators. In April 2002, relator was hospitalized because she was experiencing debilitating headaches. On April 21, 2002, when relator was about 19 weeks pregnant, a magnetic resonance imaging scan was performed. Based on the examination and testing, her physician diagnosed relator with a venous sinus thrombosis (a blood clot in a blood vessel draining the brain). Relator's physician prescribed medication to manage her pain and thin her blood. Because relator was on the blood-thinning medication and because of her medical condition, her physician instructed her to avoid high contact activities in general and to stop working as a bartender until she gave birth in September 2002. Relator's physician was concerned that relator might cut herself with a knife or on a broken piece of glass while bartending and that working in a smoke-filled environment and engaging in repetitive arm movements would exacerbate her medical condition. On April 22 or 23, 2002, while relator was in the hospital, she called Spectators, told her manager about her diagnosis, and informed him that she would not be able to return to work.

After relator returned home from the hospital, she began looking for a more sedentary job. Because relator had past experience with bookkeeping, accounts payable/receivable, and typing, she started looking for a "desk job" performing bookkeeping or secretarial duties. Relator prepared a resume and searched for jobs through the newspaper and the Internet, but was unable to obtain employment.

On May 5, 2002, relator applied for unemployment benefits. An adjudicator with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development denied relator's claim and, on appeal, an unemployment law judge also denied her claim. Relator then appealed to a representative of the Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development who concluded, consistent with the unemployment law judge's determination, that relator was not entitled to benefits because she was not "able to work" pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subds. 1(2), 14 (2002).

DECISION

Relator argues that the commissioner's representative erred in denying her application for unemployment benefits. She asserts that she is entitled to benefits under Minn. Stat. § 268.069, subd. 1 (2002), because she was able to perform clerical work, which was her "usual occupation" or "comparable employment," and, therefore, she was "able to work" under Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subds. 1(2), 14 (2002). The Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development concedes that clerical work is "comparable employment" to work as a bartender under Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 14. But the commissioner asserts that relator was not "able to work" because the record shows that she was unable to perform any type of work, including clerical work, until after she delivered her baby.

Decisions of the commissioner's representative are accorded particular deference. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). The commissioner's representative's factual findings are viewed in the light most favorable to the decision and are not disturbed if evidence in the record reasonably tends to sustain them. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996). While this court defers to the commissioner's findings of fact if they are reasonably supported by the evidence in the record, we exercise independent judgment with respect to questions of law. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).

To be entitled to unemployment benefits, applicants must meet the following five requirements:

(1) the applicant has filed an application for unemployment benefits and established a benefit account in ...


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