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Williams v. Clusiau Sales & Rental

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

November 25, 2013

David Williams, Relator,
v.
Clusiau Sales & Rental, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 30309984-4.

David Williams, Princeton, Minnesota (pro se relator) Clusiau Sales & Rental, Grand Rapids, Minnesota (respondent)

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

Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Connolly, Judge.

KALITOWSKI, Judge

Relator David Williams challenges the unemployment-law judge's (ULJ) decision that he is ineligible for unemployment benefits because he was discharged for employment misconduct. Williams argues that (1) the ULJ erred by concluding that Williams committed employment misconduct; (2) the ULJ erred in its credibility determinations; and (3) the ULJ failed to ensure that the facts were fully and clearly developed. We affirm.

DECISION

I.

Williams claims that he is eligible for unemployment benefits because he did not commit employment misconduct. We disagree.

When an employer discharges an employee for "employment misconduct, " the employee is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 4(1) (2012). Employment misconduct is "any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job that displays clearly: (1) a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee; or (2) a substantial lack of concern for the employment." Id., subd. 6 (2012). As a general rule, refusing to comply with an employer's reasonable policies and requests is disqualifying misconduct. Schmidgall v. FilmTec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002).

A challenge to the ULJ's determination that an employee committed employment misconduct presents a mixed question of fact and law. Id. Whether the employee committed a particular act is a question of fact, but whether the employee's act constitutes employment misconduct is a question of law that we review de novo. Scheunemann v. Radisson S. Hotel, 562 N.W.2d 32, 34 (Minn.App. 1997). In reviewing the ULJ's decision, "[w]e view the ULJ's factual findings in the light most favorable to the decision, " and defer to the ULJ's credibility determinations. Skarhus v. Davanni's Inc., 721 N.W.2d 340, 344 (Minn.App. 2006). We will not disturb the ULJ's factual findings if they are supported by substantial evidence. Id.

Williams was employed as a General Motors (GM) service technician at Clusiau Sales & Rental (CSR) from August 10, 2009, until his discharge on June 19, 2012. CSR requires its service technicians to complete a high number of GM training courses, which are offered online on GM's website. Williams argues that because he completed enough training to remain GM-certified he did not violate CSR's training policy.

The ULJ concluded that CSR had a right to expect that Williams would make reasonable efforts to complete the amount of training required by CSR and that Williams failed ...


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