Department of Employment and Economic Development File Nos. 29977460-3, 29948653-3
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stoneburner, Judge
This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2012).
Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.
In these consolidated certiorari appeals, relators, who are employees of respondent school district, challenge the determination of an unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 7(a) (2012), they are not entitled to benefits for days not worked from July 1, 2012, through August 2, 2012. Because the ULJ did not err in concluding that the statute applies to relators, we affirm.
Relators Paula Higgins and Teresa Gregory have, for many years, been full-time secretarial employees of respondent Independent School District #192 (the school district). Until the 2012-2013 academic year, each had always worked 40-hour weeks during the ten months when school was in session and 35-hour weeks during the two summer months when school was not in session.
In April 2012, the school district informed relators that, due to budget cuts, 160 hours of their employment would be cut in the upcoming academic year. Relators agreed to implement the cuts by not working from July 1 through August 2, 2012. Each sought unemployment benefits for that period of unemployment.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) denied benefits, and relators initiated separate appeals. Each had a hearing before a ULJ, and the ULJ in each case upheld the denial of benefits based on Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 7(a), which precludes the use of wage credits from educational employment for benefit purposes during the period between terms, if the applicant had educational employment in the prior academic period and has a reasonable assurance of similar employment in the following academic period. The ULJs also determined that, under existing case law, the 7.8% reduction in wages that resulted from the 160-hour cut is not substantial in the context of unemployment benefits such that relators' employment in the following academic year was not substantially less favorable than their prior employment. Each relator requested reconsideration and each ULJ affirmed the denial on reconsideration. Relators appealed separately but filed identical briefs on appeal and DEED filed identical responsive briefs. The cases were consolidated for appeal.
When reviewing the decision of a ULJ, this court may affirm the decision, remand the case for further proceedings, or reverse or modify the decision if the substantial rights of the relators have been prejudiced because the findings, inferences, conclusion, or decision are "(1) in violation of constitutional provisions; (2) in excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the department; (3) made upon unlawful procedure;
(4) affected by other error of law; (5) unsupported by substantial evidence in view of the entire record as submitted; or (6) arbitrary or ...