This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2010).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Staffing Partners, Inc.,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed April 5, 2011
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 24970053-3
Melissa Bilek, Chaska, Minnesota (pro se relator)
Staffing Partners, Inc., Minnetonka, Minnesota (respondent)
Lee B. Nelson, Amy R. Lawler, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic
Development, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent department)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Connolly,
Relator appeals from a denial of unemployment benefits, arguing that she had
good cause for failing to attend the evidentiary hearing. Because we conclude that the
record substantially supports the unemployment-law judge’s (ULJ) finding that relator
did not have good cause for failing to participate in the evidentiary hearing, we affirm.
Relator Melissa Bilek worked for respondent Staffing Partners, Inc. from
February 8 to March 26, 2010.
Relator was later determined to be ineligible for
unemployment benefits by respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and
Economic Development (DEED). The determination of ineligibility stated the decision
would become final unless an appeal was filed by June 2, 2010. Relator appealed the
determination, stating that she entered the year “2009” as her year worked when it should
have been “2010.”
An evidentiary hearing was initially scheduled for June 4, but
relator’s employer requested that it be rescheduled. The hearing date was moved to
June 9, and notification was sent to relator’s address on May 21.
On June 9, the ULJ phoned relator at the scheduled hearing time. When relator
did not answer, the ULJ left a voicemail indicating that, if relator did not call within 1015 minutes, the ULJ would dismiss the appeal. Relator did not call the ULJ at any time
on June 9. The ULJ subsequently dismissed relator’s appeal. Relator was also notified
that, unless she filed a request for reconsideration and established good cause for her
failure to participate in the hearing, relator would be considered to have failed to exhaust
her administrative remedies.
Relator filed a request for reconsideration, explaining that she was very busy the
week of the hearing due to her daughter’s pending high-school graduation and “lost track
of the day and times.” The ULJ denied relator’s request for a new hearing. The ULJ
stated that being “very busy” was not a good reason for failing to attend the hearing and
that relator had failed to act with due diligence. This certiorari appeal follows.
When reviewing a denial of an additional evidentiary hearing, we will not reverse
a ULJ’s decision unless that decision constitutes an abuse of discretion. Skarhus v.
Davanni’s Inc., 721 N.W.2d 340, 345 (Minn. App. 2006).
If an applicant fails to
participate in an evidentiary hearing, the ULJ must hold an additional evidentiary hearing
if the applicant demonstrates good cause for failing to participate. Minn. Stat. § 268.105,
subd. 2(d) (Supp. 2009). “Good cause” is defined as “a reason that would have prevented
a reasonable person acting with due diligence from participating at the evidentiary
The ULJ determined that relator did not demonstrate good cause for failing to
participate in the hearing. The ULJ concluded that the activity and stress surrounding the
impending graduation of relator’s daughter and the fact that relator lost track of time did
not constitute good cause for failing to attend the hearing. We agree.
We have previously stated that schedule conflicts alone do not constitute good
cause for failing to participate in the evidentiary hearing. See, e.g., Petracek v. Univ. of
Minn., 780 N.W.2d 927, 930 (Minn. App. 2010) (holding that being incarcerated, without
giving the ULJ an explanation that would show why the circumstance of “being jailed
was a reason that would have prevented a reasonable person acting with due diligence
from participating at the evidentiary hearing,” is not good cause for failing to participate
(quotation omitted)); Skarhus, 721 N.W.2d at 345 (holding that notifying the ULJ of a
work conflict one day prior to the hearing was not good cause for failing to participate
after DEED offered to reschedule and relator did not propose an alternative date). Here,
relator made no attempt to reschedule the June 9 hearing for a time when she was less
busy, and even concedes her reasons for missing the hearing are not good excuses.