This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C4-99-1312

 

Lorie L. Regenold,

Relator,

 

vs.

 

Advancements in Dermatology, P.A.,

Respondent,

 

Commissioner of Economic Security,

Respondent.

 

Filed March 7, 2000

Affirmed

Willis, Judge

 

Department of Economic Security

File No. 2777UC99

 

Matthew A. Biergert, Doar, Drill & Skow, S.C., P.O. Box 69, New Richmond, WI  54017 (for relator)

 

Advancements in Dermatology, P.A., 7373 France Avenue South, #408, Edina, MN  55435 (respondent)

 

Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN  55101 (for respondent Commissioner)

 

            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

WILLIS, Judge

            Relator Lorie L. Regenold challenges the commissioner’s representative’s determination that she was disqualified from receiving reemployment-insurance benefits because she quit her job without good reason caused by her employer.  We affirm.

FACTS

            Regenold accepted a job with Advancements in Dermatology (“AID”) in November 1998.  Regenold, who is a certified surgical technologist, prepared patients for surgery and performed other patient-care duties.  Regenold also did some clerical work.  On March 6, 1999, AID’s receptionist resigned, and Regenold was ordered to serve temporarily as a receptionist.  For the following several days, receptionist responsibilities consumed all of Regenold’s time, and she did not assist patients.  On March 10, 1999, Regenold voluntarily terminated her position with AID. 

Regenold’s claim for reemployment benefits was denied, but a reemployment insurance judge reversed the initial denial of benefits.  AID appealed, and the commissioner’s representative found that Regenold was disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits because she quit her job without good reason caused by AID.  Regenold appeals by writ of certiorari.

D E C I S I O N

An employee who voluntarily quits her job without “a good reason caused by the employer” is disqualified from receiving reemployment-insurance benefits.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (1998).  A “good reason caused by the employer” is a reason:

(1) that is directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible; and

(2) that is significant and would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit * * * .

 

Id., subd. 3(a) (1998).  Whether an employee quit with a good reason is a question of law, which may be independently reviewed by this court.  See Cook v. Playworks, 541 N.W.2d 366, 368 (Minn. App. 1996).  But the commissioner’s representative’s factual findings will not be disturbed if there is evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the findings, that reasonably tends to sustain the findings.  Kratochwill v. Los Primos, 353 N.W.2d 205, 207 (Minn. App. 1984).

            Regenold argues that her assignment as a receptionist was a substantial change in her duties that made it reasonable for her to quit.  An employee may justifiably reject a job reassignment when the new assignment substantially changes the nature of her job duties and the new duties require substantially less skill than she possesses.  Marty v. Digital Equip. Corp., 345 N.W.2d 773, 775 (Minn. 1984); Holbrook v. Minnesota Museum of Art, 405 N.W.2d 537, 539 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. July 15, 1987).  But Minnesota cases concluding that a substantial change in job duties is a good reason to quit caused by the employer have involved circumstances where the employee could not return to her former position.  See, e.g., Marty, 345 N.W.2d at 775 (employee permanently reassigned); Holbrook, 405 N.W.2d at 538 (former position eliminated).  And an employee is disqualified from receiving benefits if she quits before an employer has the opportunity to correct unfavorable working conditions.  McLane v. Casa de Esperanza, 385 N.W.2d 416, 417-18 (Minn. App. 1986).

Here, the commissioner’s representative found that the terms of Regenold’s employment with the clinic included an agreement that she would assume receptionist duties when necessary and that her assignment as a full-time receptionist was only temporary.  The office manager testified that when Regenold accepted the job it was with an understanding that “she would help at the front desk if we ever needed.”  Regenold was told that she could resume patient-care duties once a receptionist was hired.  And, at the time she quit, Regenold was training a temporary worker to assume receptionist duties and knew that the office manager had placed a newspaper advertisement seeking to hire a new receptionist, and the office manager had informed Regenold that she hoped to allow Regenold to return to assisting patients on March 15.  The evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the findings, supports the commissioner’s representative’s conclusion that receptionist duties were part of Regenold’s job description and that her assumption of full-time receptionist duties was temporary. 

Because (1) assumption of receptionist duties when necessary was part of Regenold’s job description, (2) Regenold’s reassignment was temporary and her patient-care position was not eliminated, and (3) AID was attempting to remedy the working conditions Regenold deemed unfavorable, we conclude that she did not quit her employment for a reason that is significant and would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit.  Thus, Regenold did not quit her employment with good reason caused by AID, and the commissioner’s representative did not err by determining that Regenold was disqualified from receiving reemployment-insurance benefits.  See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a) (defining “good reason” as one that is “significant and would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit”).       

Affirmed.