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Donlin v. Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

February 13, 2014

SHAUN DONLIN, Plaintiff
v.
MAINE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE COMMISSION, Defendant

ORDER

Thomas D. Warren Justice.

Before the court are two consolidated appeals by Shaun Donlin from decisions of the Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission.

In his first appeal (AP-13-22) Donlin is appealing from a February 28, 2013 Commission decision upholding the denial of unemployment benefits for the period from November 27, 2011 through February 25, 2012. Admin. Record in AP-13-22 at 22-23. This Commission decision was affirmed on reconsideration on April 3, 2013. Admin. Record in AP-13-22 at 1-2.

In his second appeal (AP-13-23) Donlin is appealing from a second Commission decision, also issued on February 28, 2013, upholding the denial of unemployment benefits for the period from February 26, 2012 to June 23, 2012. Admin. Record in AP-13-23 at 22-23. That decision was also affirmed on reconsideration on April 3, 2013. Admin. Record in AP-13-23 at 1-2.[1]

These appeals turn on the statutes and administrative rules relating to the timely filing of claims.

The background facts setting the stage for the issues now on appeal are as follows: Donlin initially filed for unemployment benefits in February 2011 and began collecting benefits at that time. R. 152. In May 2011 his employer recalled him to work but Donlin was unable to return to work at that time. Id. In August 2011 the Department of Labor determined initially that Donlin was disqualified from receiving benefits because he had refused an offer of work, which also resulted in the determination that Donlin was liable for an overpayment. R. 152-53.

Donlin appealed that decision and continued to file weekly claims for benefits while his appeal was pending. The initial decision was affirmed by a hearing officer in October 2011 and by the Commission on December 8, 2011, but Donlin then sought reconsideration of that decision. R. 153.

Although he continued to pursue his appeals, Donlin ceased filing weekly claims for unemployment benefits for weeks after November 26, 2011. R. 153. The last date on which Donlin filed a weekly claim form was December 5, 2011. R. 162-63.

In August 2012, the Commission acted on Donlin's request for reconsideration and found that Donlin had demonstrated compelling reasons for refusing the employer's recall to work in June 2011. The result of this decision was that Donlin was found entitled to benefits from June 2011 through November 26, 2011 - the last week for which he had filed weekly claims. In addition, Donlin was no longer liable for any overpayment. R. 117-20.

These two appeals concern Donlin's entitlement to benefits for the period after he ceased filing weekly claims - the period from November 27, 2011 to June 23, 2012.[2] The Commission's denial of benefits for those weeks is based on 26 M.R.S. § 1192(1) and the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation regulations governing the filing of weekly claims. 12-172 CMR, Chapter 3.

Title 26 M.R.S. § 1192(1) provides as follows:

An unemployed individual shall be eligible to receive benefits with respect to any week only if . . . [h]e has made a claim for benefits with respect to such week or part thereof in accordance with such regulations as the commission may prescribe.

See also 26 M.R.S. § 1194(1) ("Claims for benefits shall be made in accordance with such regulations as the Commission may prescribe").

The applicable regulations provide that claims for benefits must be filed weekly. Rules, Chapter 3(1)(D). Where claims are made by mail, they must be postmarked not later than 14 days from the end of the week for which a claim is made. Id. The regulations also provide for the filing of weekly claims "by telephone ...


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