No Unemployment Benefits When MN Spa Employee Gets Fired For Getting Mad About Warning

Minnesota case law summary: Unemployment.

Litiesha Harden v. Solimar Wellness Spa. MN unemployment

Litiesha Harden was employed as a front-desk employee by Solimar Wellness Spa from August through November 2012. At the time of her discharge, she applied for unemployment benefits, but the Minnesota Department of Economic Development determined that she was ineligible. She appealed to an Unemployment Law Judge and a hearing was held. The Judge determined that she was ineligible because her conduct had caused a significant negative effect on the employer, and that her conduct had displayed a serious violation of standards of behavior that the employer had a right to expect. Therefore, the Judge denied the benefits and affirmed the initial decision.

Dissatisfied with this outcome, she filed an appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals. She argued that the Unemployment Law Judge erred in this ruling because she did not receive any warnings prior to her termination. But the Court of Appeals pointed out that she was fired because of her reaction when management tried to give her a warning and talk about her inappropriate behavior.

The Court of Appeals related the details of that incident. Two managers talked to Ms. Harden about her professionalism and previous interactions with a co-worker. They presented her with a warning and asked her to sign it. During the discussion, she became defensive and raised her voice. She denied any inappropriate behavior. The owner of the spa tried to calm her down and sent her home.

The next day, she met again with the managers and the owner. During this meeting, she again became angry and raised her voice within earshot of customers. She told the managers that she would do her job without talking to the co-workers, and added that they "had never seen her mad." At this time, the employer decided to terminate her, and the police were called.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the Unemployment Law Judge that this persistent belligerence in the presence of clients showed a lack of concern for her job. The Court of Appeals pointed out that the Judge had been able to hear all of the testimony, including that of the managers, the owner, and Ms. Harden herself. Indeed, Ms. Harden herself had testified that she didn't think it was possible to put these discussions in the past and move forward.

Ms. Harden also argued on the appeal that she did not receive a fair hearing because she was not allowed to speak at the hearing. But the Court of Appeals looked carefully at the record and saw that she had many opportunities to testify and ask questions. She was able to tell her side of the story, and the Judge even asked her questions. Therefore, the Court of Appeals concluded that she had received a fair hearing.

For these reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed.

No. A13-1020 (Minn. Ct. App. Feb. 3, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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