Jay C. Hatle, Relator, vs. Banner Creations, Inc., Respondent, Commissioner of Economic Security, Respondent.  C9-97-443, Court of Appeals Unpublished, October 14, 1997. 

This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C9-97-443

Jay C. Hatle,

Relator,

vs.

Banner Creations, Inc.,

Respondent,

Commissioner of Economic Security,

Respondent.

Filed October 14, 1997

Affirmed

Crippen, Judge

Department of Economic Security

U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N

CRIPPEN, Judge

The commissioner's representative determined that respondent Banner Creations discharged relator Jay Hatle due to misconduct that disqualifies relator from receiving reemployment insurance benefits. We affirm.

FACTS

In August 1996, relator began work as a production manager for respondent, a corporation that manufactures banners and flags. His duties included ensuring that order forms contained appropriate specifications and posting a daily, written production schedule. On October 14, relator's supervisor gave him a letter advising him that he must create a daily production schedule, that he must write finishing specifications "on every job," and that "[a]ny deviation" from these procedures "will not be tolerated and will be grounds for dismissal." On November 1, the employer discharged him.

Relator filed for reemployment insurance benefits, and a claims representative determined that relator was not disqualified for benefits. Holding that the employer discharged relator for misconduct, an insurance judge held that relator was disqualified, and the commissioner's representative affirmed the judge's decision.

D E C I S I O N

On appeal, this court reviews the decision of the commissioner's representative, not the reemployment insurance judge. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). Misconduct is a mixed question of fact and law. Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., 346 N.W.2d 159, 161 (Minn. 1984). Viewing the representative's fact findings in the light most favorable to the decision, an appellate court will not disturb these findings if there is evidence that "reasonably tends to support them." McGowan v. Executive Express Transp. Enter., 420 N.W.2d 592, 594 (Minn. 1988). The ultimate determination of whether an employee is disqualified from receiving benefits is a question of law upon which this court remains "free to exercise its independent judgment." Ress v. Abbott N.W. Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d. 519, 523 (Minn. 1989). Because the reemployment insurance act is remedial in nature, the reviewing court narrowly construes the disqualification provisions, and the employer has the burden to prove, by the greater weight of evidence, that an employee has committed disqualifying misconduct. Id.

Relator contends that the commissioner's representative erroneously found that he committed misconduct by deliberately disregarding the employer's instructions on his duties. Discharged employees are disqualified for benefits if, among other reasons, they were discharged "for misconduct, not amounting to gross misconduct connected with employment or for misconduct which interferes with and adversely affects employment." Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1(b) (1996).

The courts have interpreted misconduct as (1) "willful and wanton disregard of an employer's interest," such as deliberate violations of an employer's standards of expected behavior, or (2) severe or recurring "carelessness or negligence" that manifests "equal culpability, wrongful intent or evil design" or that shows an "intentional and substantial disregard of the employer's interests or of the employee's duties and obligations to [the] employer." Tilseth v. Midwest Lumber Co., 295 Minn. 372, 374-75, 204 N.W.2d 644, 646 (1973) (citation omitted). Misconduct does not include mere inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, or inability to perform duties, and isolated acts of negligence or good faith errors in judgment are not misconduct. Id. at 375, 204 N.W.2d at 646.

Relator asserts that he inadvertently failed to comply with his employer's instructions because the demands of the job and his inexperience in the banner and flag industry made the performance of his specification and scheduling duties "an impossibility." See Ress, 448 N.W.2d at 524 (stating that inadvertent incidents of negligence may not amount to misconduct). But the record indicates that relator ignored the employer's repeated warnings to perform these duties. "Refusing to perform work within assigned duties" may constitute misconduct. Id. Although relator's supervisor "at first" thought relator had problems because "he was new," she testified that relator failed to include the proper specifications "close to 100 percent of the time," that she reminded him "daily" about this requirement, and that "he never wanted to take on that responsibility." In response, relator told her that the other workers "should just be able to figure it out and what difference does it matter." The supervisor concluded that appellant made "literally no improvement" after the warning letter. Although relator's inexperience contributed to his problems, he refused to perform his assigned duties despite repeated warnings.

Relator also asserts that he did not intentionally disregard his supervisor's instructions because he exercised his own judgment, found his assigned duties inefficient and unnecessary, and believed that his conduct would benefit his employer. But an employee's deliberate disregard of an employer's explicit, reasonable instructions constitutes disqualifying misconduct, regardless of any "good faith" belief that the employee's action would benefit the employer or that those instructions are unnecessary. Soussi v. Blue & White Serv. Corp., 498 N.W.2d 316, 318-19 (Minn. App. 1993) (holding that former corporate president committed disqualifying misconduct by ignoring resolution of company's board of directors that prohibited president from entering into contract without board authorization, even though contract ultimately benefited company); Bibeau v. Resistance Tech., Inc., 411 N.W.2d 29, 32 (Minn. App. 1987) (holding that employee who deliberately refused to make quality control checks despite specific instructions to perform those inspections because she thought they were "stupid" constituted disqualifying misconduct); see Tilseth, 295 Minn. at 374-75, 204 N.W.2d at 646 (defining misconduct as "deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of his employee"). Although relator testified that he stopped making schedules because his supervisor would post them before he could arrive at work, duplicative work, by itself, does not excuse his deliberate disregard of the employer's instructions. Bibeau, 411 N.W.2d at 32 (holding that although employee refused to make quality control checks on grounds that other employees performed the same inspections, employee committed misconduct because she deliberately ignored her employer's instructions). Relator has not demonstrated that his employer's instructions were unreasonable.

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the commissioner's decision, we conclude that the commissioner's representative properly found that relator intentionally disregarded his employer's instructions. Relator deliberately violated reasonable standards of expected behavior by deciding to disregard the employer's explicit instructions to perform his specification and scheduling duties. He ignored the employer's oral and written warnings to perform his duties. Ress, 448 N.W.2d at 524.

Relator also contends that he did not have a full and fair opportunity to present his case during the evidentiary hearing. The record does not support this assertion. Although the judge interrupted relator at one point, the judge allowed relator to complete his testimony and twice asked him if he had any further comments.

Finally, respondents assert that relator included material in his appendix that is not in the record. Because relator did not submit this evidence during the evidentiary hearing, we did not consider it as part of the record on appeal. Hanka v. Hardware, 343 N.W.2d 46, 48 (Minn. App. 1984).

Affirmed.