Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 468 03
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and
A party to an unemployment benefit dispute, subject to a validly issued subpoena, must comply with the subpoena or offer legally sufficient reasons for noncompliance.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: G. Barry Anderson, Judge
This matter is before the court of appeals on certiorari review from a decision of the commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development.*fn1 The commissioner's representative concluded under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (2002), that because relator quit his employment, and because relator's reasons for quitting did not constitute an exception to disqualification, relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation.
Relator, a pro se appellant, contends that he was unable to present his case because DecisionOne failed to comply with subpoenas. Relator also challenges the merits of his disqualification.
Relator Anthony Ntamere worked as a customer service representative for respondent DecisionOne Corporation from June 1997 until November 2002.
On November 13, 2002, Ntamere called DecisionOne and left a voicemail message saying, "I quit." Later, Ntamere applied for unemployment benefits. At Ntamere's hearing before the unemployment law judge ("ULJ"), Ntamere cited four factors that led him to quit employment at DecisionOne—the instability of the company, the possibility that the company may suspend employee severance packages, the fact that Ntamere wanted time to look for a different job, and the hostile work environment at the company.
In preparation for the hearing with the ULJ, Ntamere attempted to subpoena various documents and witnesses at DecisionOne. Although the appeals examiner at the Department of Employment and Economic Development denied many of Ntamere's subpoena requests, the appeals examiner did issue two subpoenas directed at DecisionOne.
Acting with the first validly issued subpoena, Ntamere requested that one of his former co-workers at DecisionOne, George James, attend the hearing to testify about the instability of the work environment at DecisionOne. Although the subpoena was issued, James did not attend the unemployment hearing. Using the second authorized subpoena, Ntamere requested copies of DecisionOne's old employee handbook, the updated employee handbook, and any documents in Ntamere's personnel file that related to Ntamere's separation from employment. DecisionOne did not provide a copy of either the old or the updated handbook; the company argued that Ntamere already had copies of both handbooks, and therefore the company was not obligated to provide subsequent copies. The ULJ refused to postpone Ntamere's hearing despite Ntamere's repeated requests for a continuance.
The department adjudicator, the ULJ, and the commissioner's representative all found that Ntamere was disqualified from receiving ...