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Rubin v. Winona State University

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

February 10, 2014

Henry H. Rubin, Relator,
v.
Winona State University, Respondent,

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 30848565-3

Henry H. Rubin, Rochester, New York (pro se relator)

Winona State University, c/o Kristine Legler, St. Paul, Minnesota (respondent)

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

Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Hudson, Judge; and Minge, Judge. [*]

SYLLABUS

When the record contains evidence of an employee's position description, a determination of whether the employee was in a major policy-making or advisory position under Minn. Stat. § 268.035, subd. 20(15) (2012), must not be based solely on the employer's designation of employee status in its internal plan for salary and employee benefits.

OPINION

HOOTEN, Judge

Relator challenges the denial of his claim for unemployment benefits, arguing that the unemployment law judge (ULJ) erred by determining that he is ineligible for unemployment benefits because he was employed in a major policy-making or advisory position in the unclassified service at the time his employment ended. Because the ULJ erred as a matter of law in interpreting and applying the unemployment-insurance statute, and the ULJ's finding is unsupported by substantial evidence in the record, we reverse.

FACTS

Respondent Winona State University is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MNSCU). Winona State employed relator Henry R. Rubin from July 6, 2010, to December 3, 2012. At all times during his employment, Rubin earned an annual salary of $130, 000 and was covered under MNSCU's personnel plan for administrators who are not covered under a collective-bargaining agreement.

Rubin began his employment at Winona State as the Dean of the College of Education. According to the position description, his responsibilities included providing leadership and management within the college, planning and monitoring the budget of the college, managing the university as a member of the Deans' Council, securing and managing external grants and other funding to support the college, and leading the development of curriculum for the college.

In May 2012, Connie Gores, then-interim President of Winona State, ended Rubin's assignment as dean.[1] As confirmed in a letter from Gores, Rubin was "reassigned to serve as Senior Research Associate" beginning on May 29, 2012. In this role, Rubin's responsibilities included: "complete the transition of all College, Bush Foundation grant materials, and partnership development documentation"; "[c]onduct, coordinate and organize administrative and organizational research"; and "[c]omplete written project reports at the direction of the academic administrators."

After Rubin's employment with Winona State ended in December 2012, he applied for and was denied unemployment benefits by respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Rubin appealed, and the ULJ found that although Rubin's "job duties and working title may have changed, . . . [t]he position for which Rubin was hired, as the Dean of [the] College of Education, and his appointment to that position continued through the end of his employment." The ULJ concluded that Rubin was employed in a major policy-making or advisory position in the unclassified service at all times during his ...


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