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Brooks v. Community Emergency Assistance Program, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

August 19, 2013

Sharon E. Brooks, Relator,
v.
Community Emergency Assistance Program, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 30173806-3.

Sharon E. Brooks, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota (pro se relator).

Community Emergency Association Program c/o TALX UCM Services, Inc., St. Louis Missouri (respondent employer).

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

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

STAUBER, Judge.

In this certiorari appeal from the unemployment-law judge's (ULJ) final decision that relator is ineligible for unemployment benefits because she left work early without permission and was untruthful about it, relator argues that the ULJ's findings are not supported by substantial evidence and that her conduct did not constitute misconduct. We affirm.

FACTS

Relator Sharon Brooks worked at a food shelf operated by respondent Community Emergency Assistance Program, Inc. (CEAP). Relator typically worked three days a week from 11:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Because the food shelf was located in a "fairly isolated" mini mall, CEAP's policy required that two employees be on site at all times. Employees are instructed to call the supervisor, Annette Willers, if the employee is going to be late or needs to leave early.

On July 21, 2011, relator took an early lunch without permission, resulting in her coworker being left at the food shelf by herself. Relator was warned that she needed prior approval from a supervisor to make changes to her schedule. Several months later, in January 2012, relator failed to notify her supervisor that she would be an hour-and-a-half late for work. Relator was told that her failure to notify her supervisor was "unacceptable."

In February 2012, relator was discharged from her employment with CEAP after she left work early on February 2, without permission, and was then purportedly untruthful about her actions. Relator subsequently applied for unemployment benefits with respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (department), and a department clerk initially determined that relator was ineligible for benefits because she had been discharged for employment misconduct. Relator appealed that determination and a de novo hearing was conducted.

At the hearing, conflicting stories were presented regarding relator's conduct on February 2. Relator testified that she left work five minutes early because she "received a panicked call[] from [her] daughter who was home alone." Relator also testified that when her supervisor asked relator the following day if she had left work early on February 2, she informed her supervisor that she left work at 7:55 due to a "family emergency."

Willers testified that she called the food shelf four times between 7:30 and 7:40 on February 2, but nobody answered. According to Willers, she then called the personal cell phone of relator's co-worker Linda Burt, who was scheduled to work with relator on February 2. Burt told Willers that relator had left at about 7:30. Burt also told Willers that she was sitting in her car in the ...


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