This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






Carol Wohlers,


Hennepin Home Health Care, Inc.,

Commissioner of Economic Security,


Filed September 12, 2000


Crippen, Judge


Department of Economic Security

File No. 13599


Brian E. Cote, Cote Law Firm, Ltd. 900 Midwest Plaza East, 800 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for relator)


Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)


            Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Because a reduction in hours that is attributable to an employer, with or without a formal employment contract establishing full-time employment, constitutes good cause to quit, we reverse a decision that relator Carol Wohlers was disqualified from reemployment benefits.


            In December 1998, relator commenced work for respondent Hennepin Home Health Care as an occupational therapist.  Offered part-time work, relator expressed her desire to work full-time, and she was told that respondent was hopeful—but could not guarantee – that full-time work would be available.  Shortly after respondent hired relator, another occupational-therapist employee was terminated, and relator started working full-time hours, which she continued to work for a few months. 

            Beginning in February 1999, respondent gave relator fewer cases and thus fewer hours.  Relator claims that she asked respondent about receiving more referrals so that she could increase her number of patients and hours, but respondent disputes this assertion.  In May, relator resigned from her employment.  Respondent claims that relator’s notice to quit explained that relator wanted to retire to the home she and her husband were building; relator argues that she needed full-time work to avoid this plan.


An employee who voluntarily quits employment is disqualified from reemployment benefits unless the employee quit because of a good reason caused by the employer.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (Supp. 1999).  Whether an employee quit for good reason is a question of law that this court reviews de novo.  Kehoe v. Minnesota Dep't of Econ. Sec., 568 N.W.2d 889, 890 (Minn. App. 1997).  A good reason is one that is attributable to the employer and “significant” such that it “would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a)(1), (2) (Supp. 1999).

Relator claims that she quit because her hours were cut, leaving her with a paycheck that was over 40% less than when she was working full-time hours.  She contends that her employment contract promised that she would work full-time.  A substantial reduction in wages will generally give an employee good reason to quit attributable to her employer, Wood v. Menard, Inc., 490 N.W.2d 441, 443 (Minn. App. 1992), as will a breach of an employment contract.  Krantz v. Loxtercamp Transport, Inc., 410 N.W.2d 24, 26-27 (Minn. App. 1987). 

            1.         The commissioner’s representative found that relator had voluntarily quit her employment without good cause because it was “persuaded that the reduction and fluctuation in the claimant’s hours did not constitute a material alteration or breach of the employment agreement.”  But the loss of relator’s full-time benefits is good cause to quit, whether or not her full-time employment was ratified by a formal contract.  See, e.g., Miller v. International Express Corp., 495 N.W.2d 616, 618 (Minn. App. 1993) (stating an employer may have the right to transfer and reduce an employee’s wages, but this still may create good cause to quit, attributable to an employer).  Respondent cannot point to precedent indicating the contrary:  respondent failed to address this issue on appeal and it was not discussed in the decision of the commissioner’s representative.  Finally, the evidence does not show that relator ever agreed that part-time employment was permanently acceptable or that it would be acceptable to return to part-time hours once full-time employment had been provided.

2.         The commissioner’s representative also found that relator “at no time conveyed to the employer, when her hours decreased, that this was the reason for her decision to leave her employment.”  This conclusion does not suggest a decision against relator’s claim; there is no authority indicating that relator needed to state her reason for leaving when she had previously made it known to her employers that she wanted to work full-time.  Although the commissioner’s representative cites precedent for the proposition that an employer must be informed of an employee’s grievance and be allowed to remedy the situation, neither the evidence of record nor the findings of the representative dispute relator’s claim that, prior to her resignation, she continuously made known to her employer her desire to work full-time.[1]



[1] Although the commissioner’s representative found that relator’s notice to quit stated an alternative reason for quitting (that relator was going to move to Breezy Point to retire with her husband), the commissioner’s representative did not find that the retirement was indeed relator’s reason for quitting.  Relator testified that, had she been able to work full-time, she would have had the means to maintain her home in the Twin Cities.