THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA
NICHOLAS E.G. ATKINSON vs. STATE OF ALASKA, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR,
DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY
Supreme Court No. S-9135 MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT*
[No.1040 -August 8, 2001]
Superior Court No. 3AN-98-6604 civil
Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development #98 0090
Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of
Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage,
Sigurd E. Murphy, Judge pro tem.
Appearances: Nicholas Atkinson, pro se,
Anchorage. Toby N. Steinberger, Assistant
Attorney General, Anchorage, and Bruce M.
Botelho, Attorney General, Juneau, for
Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Matthews,
Eastaugh, Bryner, and Carpeneti, Justices.
1. Nicholas Atkinson took employment at Wings 'N Things in
June 1996 as a driver delivering food. He left that employment
June 29, 1996 and applied for and received unemployment-
compensation benefits from the State of Alaska. When the Alaska
Department of Labor Employment Security Division reviewed his
unemployment-compensation benefits application, it determined that
he had voluntarily quit his employment without good cause. This
finding required Atkinson to reimburse the unemployment-
compensation benefits he had received. Atkinson appealed that
decision. At the appeal hearing before a hearing officer, Atkinson
testified about the terms under which he had been hired; the way
he came to leave his employment; and the financial hardship that
* Entered pursuant to Appellate Rule 214.
Page 2 of 3
he believed resulted from the relatively low wages and the cost of
using and maintaining his vehicle for deliveries. The owner of
Wings 'N Things also testified. The hearing officer found that
Atkinson had voluntarily quit his job without good cause:
Mr. Atkinson quit to become a self-employed individual.
A quit to enter self-employment is always without good cause,
regardless of the permanence of the self-employment, and
regardless of whether the self-employment would result in
improved wages, hours, or other conditions. . .
Mr. Atkinson left work without good cause.
2. Atkinson appealed to the Commissioner of the Department of
Labor, who affirmed on the issue of good cause. Atkinson then
unsuccessfully appealed to the superior court. Its decision
addressed his appeal as follows: "There is substantial evidence to
support the Commissioner's finding that Atkinson voluntarily left
work without good cause to go gold mining and that he was not 'on
3. Atkinson now appeals to us. Having reviewed the record,
including his testimony before the hearing officer, we conclude
that substantial evidence supports the findings of the hearing
officer and the conclusion of the hearing officer that Atkinson
voluntarily quit without good cause under AS 23.20.379(a)(1). We
also conclude that the reasons Atkinson gave for leaving did not
compel a finding by the hearing officer that Atkinson had "no
reasonable alternative but to leave work.”1
4. Although his brief is unclear, Atkinson may also be
arguing on appeal that the Department of Labor erroneously
calculated the date when his employment benefits began to be
reduced by his part-time temporary faculty position at the
university of Alaska. We conclude that Atkinson has failed to
8 Alaska Administrative Code (AAC} 85.095(c)(1)(2001).
Page 3 of 3
establish that no substantial evidence existed to support the
department's resolution of the start date for his benefits
5. Alternatively, Atkinson may be arguing that he should not
have to refund the overpay amount because prior to taking the job
with the University of Alaska, he provided the department with
full disclosure of the job, including a copy of the contract and a
report of his expected pay. He implies that an overpayment made by
the department is the fault of the department and that, therefore,
he should not have to refund this money. However, any mistake on
the part of the department would not entitle Atkinson to retain
public moneys that he must otherwise repay.
6. We therefore AFFIRM in all respects.