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Morales v. Dep't of Employment and Economic Development

May 9, 2006

MARTIN A. MORALES, RELATOR,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, RESPONDENT.



Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 946505.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

When an unemployed person seeks to apply for unemployment benefits but is incorrectly told by an employee of the Department of Employment and Economic Development to apply later, that person made a bona fide attempt for benefits, but was prevented from doing so. Relator's benefits account is now deemed effective on the Sunday of the calendar week that he first attempted to file an application under Minn. Stat. § 268.07, subd. 3b(a) (2004).

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

Reversed

Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge; Minge, Judge; and Ross, Judge.

OPINION

This is a certiorari appeal from a decision of the unemployment law judge (ULJ) affirming his earlier decision that there were no statutory grounds to backdate relator's account. Relator argues that when he attempted to apply by telephone and when he was told incorrectly that he should apply later, his benefit account should be backdated to the time he first attempted to apply for benefits. We agree and reverse.

FACTS

Relator worked full time for the American Red Cross from November 1995 through March 2, 2005, when he was laid off due to restructuring. On March 2, relator called the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to start the process of obtaining unemployment benefits. Relator told the DEED employee that he would be receiving vacation pay but was not yet sure whether he would be receiving severance pay. The DEED employee advised him that the receipt of severance pay would affect when his unemployment benefits would start. She told him to wait until his employer made a decision about severance pay and to apply for benefits then.

On May 20, the Red Cross advised relator that he would not receive any severance pay. On May 24, he contacted DEED again to establish a benefit account. He was then informed that DEED would not pay benefits retroactive to March 2 when he was first unemployed, because he had not applied then. After his May inquiry, he received written materials from DEED, which he learned for the first time he should have applied for in March.

Relator appealed this decision. The ULJ found that in March, the DEED employee told relator to file later. In spite of this, the ULJ ruled that because relator did not attempt to file an application in March, there was no statutory authority for backdating his account to that date. Relator requested reconsideration and the ULJ affirmed his initial decision to deny relator's request. This certiorari appeal followed.

ISSUE

Is an unemployed person's attempt to apply for unemployment benefits under Minn. Stat. ยง 268.07, subd. 3b(a) (2004), prevented if he telephones the Department of Employment and Economic Development for information on ...


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