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Werken v. Bell & Howell, LLC

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

July 15, 2013

Diederick van de Werken, Relator,
v.
Bell & Howell, LLC, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 30204028-3

Diederick van de Werken, North Oaks, Minnesota (pro se relator)

Bell & Howell, LLC, St. Louis, Missouri (respondent)

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

Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Hooten, Judge; and Willis, Judge.

SYLLABUS

When an applicant for unemployment benefits receives severance pay, it is error to apply severance-pay ineligibility to the period immediately following the applicant's last day of employment if the applicant was not then receiving severance pay.

OPINION

WILLIS, Judge

Relator challenges an unemployment-law judge's application of severance-pay ineligibility to the period immediately following his last day of employment, resulting in a finding of an overpayment of unemployment benefits. Because the unemployment-law judge erred by concluding that relator was ineligible to receive unemployment benefits during a time that he did not receive severance pay, we reverse and remand for a recomputation of relator's unemployment benefits.

FACTS

Relator Diederick van de Werken separated from his employment with respondent Bell & Howell on May 21, 2012. Bell & Howell offered van de Werken a severance package that included severance pay equal to six weeks of salary. Van de Werken rejected this offer, and the parties negotiated the severance amount until August, at which point van de Werken agreed to accept eight weeks of wages, totaling $29, 218.46. These payments were made in biweekly installments, beginning September 6.

Meanwhile, during the negotiations, van de Werken established an unemployment-benefits account with respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and was paid $597 weekly, beginning the week of May 20. On September 24, DEED determined that van de Werken was ineligible to receive unemployment benefits between September 2 and November 27, a period of more than 11 weeks, because Bell & Howell was making severance payments to him. Van de Werken appealed this determination, arguing that the period of severance-pay ineligibility should be only eight weeks. An unemployment-law judge (ULJ) held an evidentiary hearing.

The ULJ concluded that "[t]he severance pay and waiver amount[1] are deductible from van de Werken's unemployment and apply to the period of May 20, 2012 to July 12, 2012." This conclusion resulted in a determined overpayment of unemployment benefits in the amount of $4, 776. Van de Werken requested reconsideration, and ...


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