Individuals who are attending school usually learn an unpleasant lesson when they seek unemployment compensation benefits after losing a job. The pitfall they typically encounter is Minn. Stat. §268.085 subd. 1(4), which requires that applicants be “available for suitable employment.” Another provision hinges a student’s eligibility on willingness to discontinue classes in order to accept a job. A pair of concurrent rulings of the Minnesota Court of Appeals earlier this year highlighted these challenges. Both cases were brought by individuals who lost their jobs and sought unemployment compensation benefits while attending secondary schools full time. In both cases, the appellate court upheld determinations that the claimants were ineligible because they were not willing to quit school or change their class schedules in order to position themselves for job opportunities. Podmor v. Deed, 2012 WL 360409 (Minn. App. 2012) (unpublished); Schreifles v. DEED, 2012 WL 360389 (Minn. App. 2012) (unpublished).
Students seeking unemployment compensation benefits should make sure that they are available for work, preferably by rearranging their class schedules or if necessary, dropping out of school if their academic load stands in the way of their finding a job. Those advocating for denial of unemployment benefits can point to the unwillingness of a student to modify a class schedule to be available for work or refusal to drop classes in order to be eligible for available employment.
Marshall H. Tanick
Mansfield Tanick & Cohen, PA