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Rabideaux v. Fond Du Lac Management, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

June 3, 2013

Eric Rabideaux, Relator,
v.
Fond Du Lac Management, Inc. Black Bear Casino & Hotel, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 29908632-3.

Eric Rabideaux, Wrenshall, Minnesota (pro se relator).

Fond Du Lac Management, Inc., Black Bear Casino & Hotel, Cloquet, Minnesota (respondent).

Lee B. Nelson, Amy R. Lawler, Department of Employment and Economic Development, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent department).

Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.

HUDSON, Judge

Relator challenges the decision by an unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that he was ineligible for unemployment-insurance benefits because he was discharged for employment misconduct. Because the ULJ did not err by concluding that relator's absence from work without notice constituted employment misconduct, and because his incarceration for violating probation following a conviction of driving while impaired did not fall within the statutory exception for "conduct that was a consequence of chemical dependency" under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(b)(9) (2012), we affirm.

FACTS

Relator Eric Rabideaux began work as a waiter for the Fond du Lac Reservation at Black Bear Casino in 1994. In about 2009, after Rabideaux was convicted of driving while impaired (DWI), he was diagnosed as chemically dependent; he cut back on drinking and attended AA meetings. In November 2011, he was again convicted of DWI and placed on probation, which included a condition that he abstain from alcohol. He entered a treatment program and continued to go to AA meetings.

Fond du Lac has a policy that employees are required to call in before the start of a shift to report an absence. On May 18, 2012, Rabideaux consumed alcohol at a family gathering and was reported for violating the terms of probation. He was arrested and incarcerated until May 31. On May 23, he called and informed his employer that he was absent because of his incarceration. Although Rabideaux completed a drug screen and returned to work on June 7, he was discharged the next day because of his previous unreported absence.

Rabideaux established an unemployment-benefits account, and after an adjudicator with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) determined him ineligible for benefits, he sought a hearing before a ULJ. At the hearing, Rabideaux testified that he had been in recovery for six months when he consumed alcohol in May 2012. He testified that he had been unable to report his absence earlier because he did not understand that he would have to purchase a phone card to make a call from jail, and he lacked money to do so. He also testified that he had sufficient vacation time accrued to cover the absence and that his employment situation had been confusing because he was initially told he could return to work, but was then terminated.

The ULJ determined that Rabideaux was ineligible for unemployment benefits because of employment misconduct, based on his multi-day absence from work. The ULJ found that Rabideaux's incarceration was not a good reason for his absence and that, by failing to report to work for nine shifts, he committed a serious violation of the standards of behavior his employer had a right to reasonably expect. The ULJ found that although Rabideaux's chemical dependency may have caused him to drink, it did not directly cause his absence, and his incarceration was not a direct cause of his chemical dependency under Minnesota unemployment-insurance law. Rabideaux requested reconsideration and submitted additional information, including that his employer was aware of his chemical dependency and had previously scheduled flexible hours to accommodate his treatment; his girlfriend had notified his employer of his incarceration on May 20; he had filed a ...


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