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 Appellee. 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. ATKINSON, Nicholson S-9135 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 call.'" 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 1 8 Alaska Administrative Code (AAC} 85.095(c)(1)(2001). ATKINSON, Nicholson S-9135 Page 3 of 3 establish that no substantial evidence existed to support the department's resolution of the start date for his benefits reduction. 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.
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