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Dungan v. Department of Employment and Economic Development

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

October 21, 2013

Carrie Dungan, Relator,
v.
Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 29772036-6 Carrie L. Dungan, Otsego, Minnesota (pro se relator).

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

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

SCHELLHAS, Judge.

Relator challenges the unemployment-law judge's determination that she is ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was unavailable for suitable employment and was not actively seeking suitable employment. We affirm.

FACTS

In May 2012, Northwest Family Physicians terminated relator Carrie Dungan's employment as a medical-records clerk and receptionist. On May 13, 2012, Dungan established a benefit account with respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). At the time of her employment termination, Dungan attended a surgical-technologist program at Anthem College on a full-time basis. In her unemployment-benefits application, Dungan stated that she was enrolled in school. DEED therefore sent Dungan a questionnaire, seeking more specific information about her school enrollment. Because Dungan did not submit answers to the questionnaire, DEED issued a determination of ineligibility on June 7, 2012. After Dungan responded to the questionnaire, stating that "study time and school time" affected her ability to look for or accept a job; that she was available to work 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on weekdays and weekends; and that she was unwilling to quit, rearrange, or get excused from classes to accept suitable employment, DEED again denied Dungan's application for unemployment benefits on June 27, 2012.

On July 20, 2012, Dungan appealed the determination of ineligibility, and, on July 30, an unemployment-law judge (ULJ) dismissed her appeal because it was untimely. Dungan requested reconsideration of the dismissal. A ULJ ordered an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Dungan filed a timely appeal from the June 27 ineligibility determination and, if so, to "consider whether Dungan has been available for and actively seeking suitable employment since May 13, 2012, the beginning date of ineligibility indicated on the determination of ineligibility." If the ULJ concluded that Dungan failed to file a timely appeal, "the [ULJ would] only consider whether Dungan has been available for and actively seeking suitable employment since July 27 [sic], 2012."[1]

The ULJ conducted an evidentiary hearing and determined that (1) Dungan failed to file a timely appeal and that the ULJ therefore only had authority to decide Dungan's eligibility for unemployment benefits after July 20, 2012, and (2) Dungan was not available for suitable employment and was not actively seeking suitable employment and therefore was ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. Dungan requested reconsideration, and a different ULJ affirmed.

This certiorari appeal follows.

DECISION

We may reverse or modify a ULJ's decision if the relator's rights were prejudiced because the ULJ's findings, inferences, conclusion, or decision are, among other grounds, affected by an error of law, in excess of the ULJ's statutory authority, or made upon an unlawful procedure. Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (2012).[2] We give deference to the ULJ's credibility determinations, view the ULJ's findings in the light most favorable to the decision, and will not disturb the findings if the evidence substantially sustains them. Skarhus v. Davanni's Inc., 721 N.W.2d 340, 344 (Minn.App. 2006). We review legal questions de novo. Id.

The only issue on appeal is whether substantial evidence supports the ULJ's decision that Dungan was not available for and actively seeking suitable employment after July 20, 2012. Dungan argues that substantial evidence does not support the ULJ's finding that she was not available for suitable ...


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