Discharged Employee Not Entitled to Subpoena in Unemployment Case

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: unemployment, subpoena.

Aireal Icenhower v. Total Automotive, Inc.. MN unemployment, subpoena

Aireal Icenhower worked for about a year for Total Automotive as a sales representative. On January 11, 2013, she told her suprvisor that 22 prescription Ritalin pills had been stolen from her purse. The Carver County Sheriff's Office investigated. Icenhower initially told the investigating officer that she didn't know who stole the pills. But she later said that she though J.E. stole them. When the officer concluded that J.E. hadn't done so, but Icenhower couldn't think of any other suspects. A few days later, however, she told the owner that her supervisor had stolen them. She said that the supervisor had been buying pills. When the owner confronted her about various inconsistencies in the story, Icenhower admitted that "everything" had been a lie. At that point, Total Automotive discharged her.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development determined that Icenhower was ineligible for unemployment benefits since she was discharged for miconduct. She appealed to an Unemployment Law Judge, and requested subpoenas of documents and to compel the supervisor to testify. The ULJ denied the requests. Icenhower then appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals first noted that the decision to issue subpoenas was a discretionary ruling by the ULJ. Even though the statutes are not clear, the court first held that the case was analogous to a civil case, and the same standards would apply. The court examined the record and concluded that the ULJ had acted within her discretion.

The court also examined the evidence and concluded that the evidence supported the ULJ's findings. For these reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed.

No. A13-1287 (Minn. Ct. App. April 28, 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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