This opinion will be unpublished and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

C7-00-775

 

 

Mary L. Thomas,

Relator,

 

vs.

 

Valley Veterinary Clinic,

Respondent,

 

Commissioner of Economic Security,

Respondent.

 

 

Filed November 7, 2000

Affirmed

Mulally, Judge*

 

Department of Economic Security

File No. 516399

 

 

Mary L. Thomas, R.R. 2, Box 109, Houston, MN 55943 (pro se appellant)

 

Valley Veterinary Clinic, P.O. Box 236, Rushford, MN 55971 (respondent employer)

 

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

 

            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Forsberg, Judge,** and Mulally, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

MULALLY, Judge

            The commissioner’s representative determined that relator was disqualified from receiving reemployment compensation benefits, and she seeks certiorari review.  We affirm, determining she quit her employment without good reason caused by the employer.

FACTS

            Relator Mary L. Thomas worked for respondent Valley Veterinary Clinic from October 1, 1986, through November 10, 1999.  She was a large-animal technician on a seasonal and on-call basis, and she also performed office and cleaning duties on a regularly scheduled basis.  During her last several years of employment, she worked an average of ten hours per week.

Although it was undisputed that relator’s work was generally satisfactory, respondent eliminated her office and cleaning duties to address the increasing workplace tension between relator and other employees.  Because relator preferred to address the situation through correspondence, respondent’s office manager sent relator a letter, which she received November 6, 1999.  The office manager indicated that she was disappointed in Thomas’s negative relations with her co-workers and stated:

I feel it is obvious that you are not happy working for Valley Veterinary Clinic and perhaps it would be in your best interest if we discontinued your Thursday and every other Saturday hours and continue for an on-call for chute work.

 

            If this is unsatisfactory please let me know by Wednesday, November 10, 1999 or if you have any questions regarding this letter, please feel free to discuss this with me.

 

Relator’s last day of work was November 6, 1999.  She did not respond to the letter, perform any other services for respondent, or communicate with respondent about her job after that date.  The commissioner’s representative found that respondent unsuccessfully attempted to contact relator by phone for on-call work for November 10, 1999.

            The commissioner’s representative disqualified relator from receiving reemployment benefits, determining that she quit her job without good reason caused by respondent.  Relator petitioned this court for a writ of certiorari to challenge the decision.

D E C I S I O N

“Whether an employee has been discharged or voluntarily quit is a question of fact.”  Midland Elec., Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 812 (Minn. App. 1985).  Findings of fact must be reviewed in the light most favorable to the decision and will not be disturbed if there is evidence reasonably tending to support them.  Id.  “A quit from employment occurs when the decision to end the employment was, at the time the employment ended, the employee’s.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 2(a) (Supp. 1999).

A discharge from employment occurs when any words or actions by an employer would lead a reasonable employee to believe that the employer will no longer allow the employee to work for the employer in any capacity.

 

Id., subd. 5(a) (Supp. 1999) (emphasis added).

When respondent eliminated relator’s scheduled work hours at the clinic, it invited her to continue as an on-call employee and to discuss any questions she had.  Relator had no further discussions with respondent concerning her job and did not respond to respondent’s attempt to schedule her for on-call work by November 10, 1999.  An employee who declines an offer of continuing, available employment voluntarily quits.  See Shanahan v. District Mem’l Hosp., 495 N.W.2d 894, 896-97 (Minn. App. 1993) (concluding refusal to interview for equivalent position constituted voluntary termination despite employer’s termination of employee’s previous position).  Because relator chose to leave her employment despite respondent’s offer of continuing on-call employment, we conclude the commissioner’s representative correctly found that relator quit.

An employee who quits a job is not entitled to reemployment-compensation benefits unless the employee quit “because of a good reason caused by the employer.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (Supp. 1999).  This presents a question of law, which this court reviews de novo.  Kehoe v. Minnesota Dep’t of Econ. Sec., 568 N.W.2d 889, 890 (Minn. App. 1997).[1]  A good reason to quit is a reason “directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible” and so significant that it “would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a)(1), (2) (Supp. 1999).

Adverse working conditions can provide a good reason to quit, although the employee must first notify the employer to give it an opportunity to correct adverse conditions.  Minn. Stat. § 269.095, subd. 3(b) (Supp. 1999).  Here, as the commissioner’s representative noted, relator did not express dissatisfaction with her schedule, but instead quit.

“A substantial adverse change in wages, hours or other terms of employment * * * shall be considered a good reason caused by the employer for quitting * * *.”  Minn. Stat. § 269.095, subd. 3(c) (Supp. 1999).  Relator contends she quit because her scheduled hours were eliminated.  But she had the opportunity to continue and expand her on-call hours, which was work she preferred.  She expressed no interest in doing so.  She has produced no evidence that she would encounter a substantial adverse change in her employment as a result of the change in her duties.

Affirmed.

 



* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

 

** Reitred judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

 

[1] Previously, the employee had the burden of proving good reason to quit.  Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978).  The law has since been amended to provide that the decision as to disqualification shall be made “without regard to any common law burden of proof.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.101, subd. 2(e) (Supp. 1999).  The effect of this provision is unclear, but because the issue has not been raised and does not appear to be determinative here, we do not address it.  See  id. (providing decision to be made without consideration of burden of proof).