This opinion will be unpublished and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

C0-00-4

 

Barbara M. Westlund,

Relator,

 

vs.

 

Sprint/United Management Co.,

Respondent,

 

Commissioner of Economic Security,

Respondent.

 

Filed May 16, 2000

Affirmed

Davies, Judge

 

Department of Economic Security

File No. 255099

 

 

Barbara M. Westlund, 3460 Golfview Dr., Apt. 2104, Eagan, MN 55123 (pro se relator)

 

Sprint/United Management Co., P.O. Box 1160, Columbus, OH 43216-1160 (respondent employer)

 

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

 

            Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Davies, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

DAVIES, Judge

            On appeal from the denial of reemployment benefits, relator challenges the determination of the commissioner’s representative that she voluntarily quit her job without good cause attributable to her employer.  We affirm.

FACTS

            Relator Barbara Westlund worked for Sprint/United Management Co. (employer) as a sales representative from July 1996 through June 7, 1999, earning an annual base salary of $20,000, plus commissions.  She was terminated from her position for allegedly falsifying paperwork on an application for an unpaid leave of absence, filed under the employer’s plan for family medical leaves.  Westlund initially indicated on her application that the requested leave was to care for her mother, but later acknowledged that she, in fact, intended to care for a sick grandmother.  Westlund’s request for a leave was denied because the employer’s plan permitted unpaid leaves to care for a child, spouse, or parent, but not a grandparent.  Westlund failed to report for work in the week following the denial of her leave request, despite a warning by her employer that she was expected to report for work.  Westlund was terminated in the week following her absence.

            The Department of Economic Security initially determined that Westlund had been terminated from employment for reasons other than misconduct.  But after Westlund testified at an evidentiary hearing that she had quit and the employer testified that it had discharged her due to misconduct, the reemployment insurance judge determined that Westlund had quit, and not for good cause attributable to the employer.  The commissioner’s representative affirmed, noting the employer’s termination claim, but concluding that Westlund had, in fact, quit before the employer’s decision.

D E C I S I O N

When reviewing a decision of the commissioner’s representative, we consider whether there is reasonable support in the evidence to sustain the decision.  Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995).  The findings of the commissioner’s representative must be viewed in the light most favorable to the decision; findings will not be disturbed if there is evidence reasonably tending to sustain them.  Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996); Ress v. Abbott NW Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989). 

A person who voluntarily quits employment without good cause attributable to the employer is disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (1998).[1]  Whether an employee was discharged or quit voluntarily is a question of fact for the commissioner.  Shanahan v. District Mem’l Hosp., 495 N.W.2d 894, 896 (Minn. App. 1993); Hollar v. Richard Mfg. Co., 346 N.W.2d 692, 694 (Minn. App. 1984).

            The commissioner’s representative found that Westlund quit her job to care for her grandmother after discovering she did not qualify for a family medical leave.  At the hearing before the reemployment insurance judge, Westlund herself testified that she quit her job and denied that she had been discharged.  This evidence is sufficient to affirm the determination of the commissioner’s representative that Westlund voluntarily quit her employment.

Westlund also errs in asserting that she quit for good cause attributable to the employer, an exception to the disqualification provision for reemployment insurance benefits.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1).  On established facts, whether an employee terminates employment with good cause attributable to the employer is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo.  Wetterhahn v. Kimm Co., 430 N.W.2d 4, 6 (Minn. App. 1988).  To constitute a “good cause” reason to quit, the reason must be “substantial, reasonable, and compelling, not imaginary, trifling, or whimsical.”  Kehoe v. Minnesota Dep’t of Economic Sec., 568 N.W.2d 889, 890 (Minn. App. 1997) (citing Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976)). 

Westlund has failed to meet her burden of proof.  See Midland Elec., Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 811 (Minn. App. 1985) (employee has burden of proving employment was discontinued for good cause attributable to employer).  We find no reason to dispute the conclusion of the commissioner’s representative that, although Westlund may have quit for “good personal reasons,” those reasons did not constitute good cause attributable to the employer.

            We do not reach Westlund’s alternative assertion that she should not be disqualified from benefits due to misconduct.

            Affirmed.

 



[1] Minn. Stat. § 268.095 was amended in 1999.  1999 Minn. Laws ch. 107, §§ 44, 66.  The 1998 version of the statute was in effect at the time relator left her job and filed for reemployment insurance benefits and therefore applies to this case.