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Waletich Corp. v. Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development

July 13, 2004

WALETICH CORPORATION, RELATOR,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, RESPONDENT.



Department of Employment and Economic Development. File No. 11733 03.

Considered and decided by Halbrooks , Presiding Judge; Harten , Judge; and Minge , Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

A telephone appeal of a determination by the Department of Employment and Economic Development regarding unemployment liability is not effective unless the determination provides that such an informal appeal is available.

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

Affirmed

OPINION

Relator challenges the decision by the commissioner's representative dismissing its appeal as untimely. On appeal, relator argues that an alleged telephone conversation it had with the department, which occurred within the 30-day appeal period, was an effective appeal and permissible under Minnesota law. We affirm.

FACTS

On December 24, 2002, respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development mailed a notification to relator Waletich Corporation (Waletich) of its succession determination, naming Waletich as successor of B.C. Cartage, Inc. The notification contained information regarding Waletich's right of protest and appeal, and indicated that Waletich had 30 days in which to file its appeal. Waletich claims that it made a number of phone calls to the department prior to the expiration of the 30-day appeal period.

Waletich filed a written appeal on July 2, 2003, which was 160 days after the time for appealing the initial department determination had expired. The unemployment law judge dismissed relator's appeal. The commissioner's representative affirmed the finding that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the merits of the appeal because the appeal was untimely. Realtor now appeals the decision of the commissioner's representative to this court.

ISSUE

Did relator's alleged phone calls to the Department of Employment and Economic Development constitute a timely appeal?

ANALYSIS

The decision of the commissioner's representative to dismiss an appeal as untimely is a question of law that we review de novo. Stottler v. Meyers Printing Co., 602 N.W.2d 916, 918 (Minn. App. 1999). The Minnesota Supreme Court has held that the statutory time for appeal is "absolute and unambiguous." Semanko v. Dep't of Employment Serv., 309 Minn. 425, 430, 244 N.W.2d 663, 666 (1976). "[S]tatutes designating the time for appeal from decisions of all levels of the Department [of Employment and Economic Development] should be strictly construed .. . ." King v. Univ. of Minn., 387 N.W.2d 675, 677 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Aug. 13, 1986). "An agency is deprived of jurisdiction to ...


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