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Foster-Graham v. Specialized Treatment Services, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 23, 2013

Edward Foster-Graham, Relator,
v.
Specialized Treatment Services, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 30900781-3

Edward Foster-Graham, New Brighton, Minnesota (pro se relator)

Specialized Treatment Services, Inc., c/o Doherty Employment Group, Edina, Minnesota (respondent)

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

Considered and decided by Connolly, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge. [*]

CONNOLLY, Judge

Relator challenges the decision of the unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that relator was discharged for employee misconduct and is therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits. He argues that he did not commit misconduct and that the ULJ was biased against him. Because relator concedes that he repeatedly failed to appear for work as scheduled and failing to report for work when scheduled has been identified as misconduct in prior caselaw and because our review of the record discloses no bias in the ULJ, we affirm.

FACTS

In December 2012, relator Edward Foster-Graham began to work for respondent Specialized Treatment Services Inc. (STS) as a methadone counselor with a caseload of about 50 clients. He was given a copy of the STS employee handbook, which provides that, "[i]f an employee is absent for two consecutive business days without directly notifying his/her manager, he/she will be considered to have voluntarily resigned his/her position with STS." Relator signed a statement saying he knew he was responsible for reading the handbook.

Relator did not go to work and did not notify anyone at STS on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, February 12-14, 2013. On February 14, he called respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and reactivated his unemployment benefits account, saying he was laid off by STS on January 25, 2013.

On Friday, February 15, his fourth day away from work, relator called his STS manager and told her he was in Chicago attending to a family emergency, i.e., his brother's medical condition following an assault, and did not know when he would be back in Minnesota. He said, "I suppose I don't have a job now . . . ." His manager did not confirm or deny this, but said she had to wait until she could confer with STS's president, who made termination decisions and would be back in the office on Monday, February 18.

On February 18, relator called to say that he was in Minnesota but did not know when he would return to work. His manager told him to call on Wednesday, February 20, and let her know when he would be back. Immediately after that call, relator called the manager back to ask about his paycheck, which was provided to him.

Later on February 18, STS's president told relator's manager that relator's employment should be terminated. Relator was sent a letter summarizing the events of February 12-18 and stating, "As a result of the above representations that you won't fulfill the duties of ...


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