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Huston v. Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development

December 23, 2003

JOSHUA D. HUSTON, RELATOR,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, RESPONDENT.



Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 13306 02, 13307 02, 13308 02, 13309 02

Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Minge, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*fn1

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Minn. Stat. §á268.085, subd. 4(c) (2002), which provides that any person who files for or receives Social Security disability benefits is ineligible for unemployment compensation, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and is invalid as applied to persons who are available to work but are classified as disabled for Social Security purposes.

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

Reversed and remanded; motion granted

OPINION

Relator, who is hearing impaired, claims that Minn. Stat. §á268.085, subd. 4(c) (2002), which declares that persons who file for or receive Social Security disability benefits are ineligible for unemployment benefits, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because relator's physical condition automatically qualified him for Social Security benefits without having to further establish an inability to work, because the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits state discrimination against persons based on disability unrelated to workplace requirements, and because the Commissioner of Economic Security denied benefits solely because of the irrebuttable statutory presumption in the Minnesota law, we hold Minn. Stat. §á268.085, subd. 4(c) invalid as applied to relator and others similarly situated, and reverse and remand.

FACTS

Relator Joshua Huston, a hearing-impaired individual, was laid off from work in April 2001. Huston began receiving unemployment compensation benefits starting May 19, 2001. Subsequently, Huston established a Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation account and received benefits. On February 26, 2002, as his unemployment benefits were ending, Huston applied for Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). In May 2002, the SSA informed Huston that he was entitled to receive SSDI benefits retroactively for the period of October 2001 through April 2002.

Huston received notices from respondent Department of Economic Security (DES) informing him that he had been determined retroactively ineligible for unemployment benefits because of his receipt of SSDI benefits. The notices informed Huston that he had been overpaid the entire amount received, which totaled $15,552. The unemployment law judge affirmed the DES determination of ineligibility but reduced the amount of unemployment compensation overpaid to $7,012 because part of the unemployment benefits were paid for a period prior to the SSDI benefits. The commissioner's representative affirmed the decision of the unemployment law judge.

Huston brings a writ of certiorari to review the commissioner's decision, claiming that it violates both Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The commissioner moved to strike the section of relator's reply brief that raised the MHRA for the first time in this appeal.

ISSUES

1. Does Minn. Stat. §á268.085, subd. 4(c) (2002), as applied to relator, violate Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

2. Is the issue of whether Minn. Stat. ยงรก268.085, subd. 4(c) (2002), violates the Minnesota Human Rights Act ...


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