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Asare-Davis v. Department of Employment and Economic Development

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

August 26, 2013

Cindy Asare-Davis, Relator,
v.
Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 30275275-3.

Cindy Asare-Davis, Minneapolis, Minnesota (pro se relator).

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

Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Bjorkman, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge. [*]

BJORKMAN, Judge.

Relator challenges the unemployment-law judge's (ULJ) decision that she is not eligible for unemployment benefits, arguing substantial evidence does not support the ULJ's finding that she is unavailable for suitable employment. We affirm.

FACTS

On February 7, 2012, relator Cindy Asare-Davis was discharged from her position at Surgical Technology. She established a benefits account with respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) on February 19 and began receiving benefits.

Asare-Davis subsequently enrolled in a master's degree program in clinical psychology. As a prerequisite to the program, Asare-Davis took one class that began in May 2012 and lasted seven and one-half weeks. The class met on Wednesdays from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. In September, Asare-Davis began taking two classes that met on Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. In addition to attending classes, Asare-Davis spent eight hours per day looking for employment. She applied for more than 30 positions per week and did not tell potential employers that she was unavailable to work during her class times.

In the fall of 2012, Asare-Davis missed a reemployment-assistance class and told DEED that her absence was due to school. DEED sent her a questionnaire requesting information about her classes. In her response to the questionnaire, Asare-Davis indicated that she was willing to quit or rearrange her classes to accept employment. But when asked what she would do if a potential job conflicted with her classes, she wrote, "I am willing to rearrange my time but cannot be done until next semester. I will have a talk with my advisor to get another time that will help my job search easier." Based on her responses, DEED determined that Asare-Davis was not eligible to receive benefits because she was not available for suitable employment.

Asare-Davis appealed, and the ULJ conducted an evidentiary hearing. Asare-Davis testified that she had no limits on when she could work; was willing to reschedule her classes to obtain employment; and, if she could not reschedule her classes, would quit school. She further explained that when she wrote in response to the questionnaire that she could not rearrange her classes until the end of the fall semester, she meant she would only change her schedule if she found employment. The ULJ found Asare-Davis's testimony that she made a mistake in her written statement not credible. And the ULJ noted that Asare-Davis acknowledged she did not investigate how to reschedule her classes until after she completed the questionnaire. The ULJ concluded that Asare-Davis is ineligible for benefits because she is not available for suitable employment and directed Asare-Davis to repay the benefits she received between May 1 and December 13. Asare-Davis requested reconsideration, and the ULJ affirmed. This certiorari appeal follows.

DECISION

To receive unemployment benefits for a particular week, an applicant must be "available for suitable employment." Minn. Stat. ยง 268.085, subd. 1(4) (2012). An applicant is available for suitable employment if he or she is "ready, willing, and able to accept suitable employment" and does not impose any restrictions that prevent him ...


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