August L. Neumann v. Department of Employment and Economic Development. MN unemployment
August L. Neumann lived in a small town and worked as a security-system installer until he was laid off in late 2012. He filed for unemployment and spent about 5-10 hours per week looking for work. He called and visited local businesses and checked newspaper and online ads. In mid-February 2013, he reduced his job-search activities to about a half hour per day. This was prompted by a phone call from his former employer that he might be rehired in April. During this time, he was also studying for a commercial driver's license exam to improve his job prospects.
About that same time, Neumann's stepfather invited him on an overnight trip to a city four hours away. Neumann agreed, since he had nothing else to do.
A clerk at the unemployment office determined that Neumann was no longer eligible for benefits since he had left his "normal commuting area" for reasons other than seeking work. An unemployment law judge agreed, and held that Neumann was ineligible since he was not actively seeking work and available for work. Neumann then appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
The Unemployment Judge had based the determination on the fact that Neumann had spent only 5-10 hours per week seeking work, focused on obtaining the commercial driver's license, and left the labor market area for two days. But the Court of Appeals reversed, since the judge had not made any assessment of existing conditions in Neumann's labor market area. It held that this was essential, since there is no requirement to seek work after exhausting the pool of suitable jobs in the area.
The Court of Appeals also held that Neumann's efforts to obtain the CDL should not be penalized. Finally, it held that the two-day absence from the area might require the loss of two day's benefits, but not a complete denial. For those reasons, the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the unemployment law judge to make the proper determination in light of the local employment climate.
No. A13-1007 (Minn. Ct. App. Mar. 17, 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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