Filed May 12, 1998.
Appeal from the Department of Economic Security, File No. 5017UC97.
John D. Waller, William E. McKechnie Associates, P.C., (for relator)
First Care Medical Services, (Nursing Home) Fosston Location, (respondent employer)
Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Davies, Judge.
This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
Joann L. Munter, a certified nursing assistant at First Care Medical Services, was terminated from employment because she refused to attend a training session required by her employer. By writ of certiorari, Munter appeals from the commissioner's determination that she is not entitled to receive reemployment insurance benefits because she was separated from employment due to misconduct. We affirm.
The reemployment insurance fund is available only to persons involuntarily "unemployed through no fault of their own." Minn. Stat. § 268.03 (1996); White v. Metropolitan Med. Ctr. , 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). Therefore, an employee discharged for misconduct is disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1(b) (1996). The employer has the burden of proving the employee's misconduct. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc. , 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989). Our review of the commissioner's factual findings is limited to whether the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the decision below, supports that decision. Id. However, we review de novo whether those facts constitute misconduct. Id.
Munter argues her refusal to attend the training session does not constitute misconduct as a matter of law because her refusal was "reasonable," was an "isolated incident," did not evidence a wrongful intent, and did not adversely affect her employer's business. See Tilseth v. Midwest Lumber Co. , 295 Minn. 372, 374-75, 204 N.W.2d 644, 646 (1973) (holding misconduct limited to conduct evincing willful or wanton disregard of employer's interests as found in deliberate violations of standards of behavior which employer has right to expect of employees); Flannigan v. Meadow Lane Health Care Ctr. , 347 N.W.2d 852, 853-54 (Minn.App. 1984) (holding aide's conduct in leaving discussion with employer after 15 minutes, despite employer's insistence that she continue discussion, not "misconduct" where such conduct was isolated instance in over 13 years of aide's employment and no adverse affect on employer's business). However, the record demonstrates Munter: (1) had been informed by her employer that she was required to attend an in-service training class because she neglected to adequately care for a resident; (2) deliberately refused to attend the training session because she believed her conduct did not warrant that sort of discipline; and (3) had previously received one verbal and at least one written warning arising from her job performance and was required to attend numerous "coaching sessions." Given these facts and our limited standard of review, we conclude Munter's refusal to attend the training session was a willful and intentional disregard of her employer's interests, and thus constitutes "misconduct" under Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1(b). See Ress , 448 N.W.2d at 525 (holding preventing patient's exposure to serious harm is legitimate interest of employer); Sandstrom v. Douglas Mach. Corp. , 372 N.W.2d 89, 91 (Minn.App. 1985) (concluding general rule is that if request of employer is reasonable and does not impose unreasonable burden on employee, refusal will constitute misconduct); see, e.g. , Bibeau v. Resistance Tech., Inc. , 411 N.W.2d 29, 32 (Minn.App. 1987) (holding evidence supports finding of misconduct where employee deliberately chose not to follow her employer's instructions because she thought program was "stupid").