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Emmanuel Buabeng v. Best Buy Warehousing Logistics

April 15, 2013

EMMANUEL BUABENG, RELATOR,
v.
BEST BUY WAREHOUSING LOGISTICS, INC., RESPONDENT, DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, RESPONDENT.



Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 29515600-3

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

This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2012).

Affirmed

Considered and decided by Johnson, Chief Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Chutich, Judge.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION CHUTICH, Judge

Relator Emmanuel Buabeng challenges the unemployment-law judge's determination that he is ineligible for unemployment benefits because he was discharged for employment misconduct. Buabeng asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support the judge's factual findings and that he was denied a fair hearing because the judge failed to compel evidence and failed to allow cross-examination of a witness. Because the evidence supports the judge's findings and because Buabeng was afforded a fair hearing, we affirm.

FACTS

On September 22, 2001, Buabeng began working as a full-time asset-protection officer at respondent Best Buy Warehousing Logistics, Inc. (Best Buy), a warehouse complex that services and delivers goods to Best Buy retail stores. Buabeng's duties included checking and verifying trucks as they arrived and departed the facility, as well as general security. He worked in a guard shack at the facility's single entrance, where he was responsible for verifying the contents of every truck coming and going. In February and March of 2012, when the events leading to Buabeng's termination took place, approximately 30 to 45 trucks passed through Best Buy's facility each day.

The first incident relevant to Buabeng's termination occurred on February 8, 2012, when Buabeng checked in a trailer but failed to verify that the number on the trailer was the same as the number on the paperwork given to him by the driver. Essentially, Buabeng checked in the wrong trailer, causing a mix-up. While Best Buy would have been responsible for any loss stemming from Buabeng's mistake, the error turned out to be harmless. Best Buy gave Buabeng a written warning informing him that the error violated its trailer check-in policy. The document stated that it was a "final warning," and Buabeng was aware that his job was in jeopardy.

A little over a month later, on March 19, 2012, Best Buy gave Buabeng an "Involuntary Separation Notice." The notice stated that he allowed trucks to leave the facility without inspection on three separate occasions and that on March 7 he was "witnessed waving a truck through the gate again without checking credentials." Best Buy thus terminated Buabeng's employment.

Buabeng applied for unemployment benefits from respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (department). The department determined that he was eligible for benefits, finding that Buabeng's actions did not amount to employment misconduct. Best Buy appealed this determination, and the unemployment-law judge held a telephone hearing at which Buabeng testified, along with his Best Buy supervisor Chad Tellinghuisen.

The Involuntary Separation Notice stated that Buabeng was discharged for allowing vehicles to go through the gate without inspection on three occasions, in addition to an incident on March 7. At the hearing, however, Tellinghuisen testified that Buabeng was discharged for waving a truck through the gate on March 2, and also for the trailer mix-up on February 8. Tellinghuisen stated that he watched the surveillance video of the March 2 incident on March 7, which is why the separation notice reflected that erroneous date.

Tellinghuisen testified about the March 2 incident. He stated that, under Best Buy procedures, Buabeng was to inspect the cargo area of each trailer leaving the facility and verify either that the trailer was empty or, if it contained items, that Best Buy had paperwork for the items and verify the trailer number against the paperwork. A driver typically pulled the truck and trailer up to the gatehouse and Buabeng was expected to physically go out and inspect each trailer. Tellinghuisen testified that no exceptions to this procedure exist for full-sized semi-trailers, and that Buabeng failed to inspect one such trailer on March 2.

Tellinghuisen was not physically present at the gatehouse on March 2, but became aware of the failure to inspect when he was alerted to it by a maintenance worker who witnessed Buabeng waving a truck through without inspection. Tellinghuisen then watched surveillance video a few days later and saw Buabeng wave the truck through. Buabeng denied failing to inspect the truck on March 2. Because of this conflicting testimony and because he believed that the surveillance video would be the best evidence of whether Buabeng actually waved the ...


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