This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Jennifer L. Labey,
Steel Prep Division,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed February 27, 2001
Department of Economic Security
Agency File No. 157700
Jennifer L. Labey, 1793 Millwood Avenue, Roseville, MN 55113 (relator pro se)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Hanson, Judge.
Relator challenges the determination of the commissioner's representative that she quit her job without good reason caused by her employer, arguing that she had good reason to quit because her employer removed some of her responsibilities, gave her a less desirable office, refused her a wage increase, changed her daily start time, and denied her vacation request. Because the evidence supports the determination of the commissioner’s representative that relator quit her job without a good reason caused by her employer, we affirm.
Relator Jennifer L. Labey worked for Steel Prep Division (SPD). Initially, she worked a 40-hour week, but began working 32 to 35 hours per week upon returning from maternity leave in April 1998. Relator usually started work at 9:00 a.m. or later. When SPD hired a controller, James Kraus, relator’s private office was given to Kraus, and relator was moved to a cubicle with three walls that fronted a hallway.
In 1999, Kraus gave relator a performance appraisal. For the first time at SPD, relator did not get a salary raise after a performance appraisal. Kraus informed relator that her position would change in January 2000 to a 40-hour week, with a daily starting time of 8:00 a.m. Relator previously had said that she would quit her job if she had to start work earlier than 9:00 a.m. Kraus told relator that SPD would be happy if she stayed, but that the schedule was going to change whether or not she stayed. Relator then decided to quit when the new schedule went into effect.
On November 29, 1999, relator applied for a week of vacation beginning December 13, 1999, because she had problems finding childcare for that week and also because she wanted to use her earned vacation time before the end of the year. Kraus initially granted her request for vacation, but then SPD management denied relator’s request because the company was in the middle of a corporate acquisition and needed her help with the new payroll.
On December 7, 1999, relator quit her job and filed a claim for unemployment benefits with the Minnesota Department of Economic Security. The department disqualified relator from receiving benefits, finding that relator quit her employment without good reason caused by SPD. Relator appealed the decision. The unemployment law judge affirmed the department’s determination and the commissioner’s representative affirmed the judge. Relator appeals by writ of certiorari.
D E C I S I O N
The findings of the commissioner’s representative must
be viewed in the light most favorable to the decision, and if there is evidence reasonably tending to sustain them, they will not be disturbed.
White v. Metropolitan Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983).
An employee who quits employment shall be disqualified from all unemployment benefits unless the employee quit “because of a good reason caused by the employer.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (Supp. 1999). A “good reason caused by the employer” for quitting 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 and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a) (Supp. 1999).
The determination that an employee quit without good reason attributable to the employer is a legal conclusion, but must be based on findings that have the requisite evidentiary support. See Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978). “The employee who quits has the burden of proving good cause to resign that is attributable to the employer.” Shanahan v. District Mem’l Hosp., 495 N.W.2d 894, 897 (Minn. App. 1993) (citing Zepp, 272 N.W.2d at 263).
The test for “good cause” to quit has been defined:
[T]he circumstances which compel the decision to leave employment must be real, not imaginary, substantial not trifling, and reasonable, not whimsical; there must be some compulsion produced by extraneous and necessitous circumstances. The standard of what constitutes good cause is reasonableness as applied to the average man or woman, and not to the supersensitive.
Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976).
Relator contends that the commissioner’s representative erred in determining that she voluntarily quit her employment without a good reason caused by SPD. She advances several complaints against her employer as grounds for her decision to quit. First, relator complains about SPD’s decision to remove some of her work responsibilities. But the only specific responsibility relator testified that she lost was the responsibility to perform credit checks on potential debtors. Relator next complains that SPD failed to grant her a pay raise at her 1999 performance review. But there is no evidence in the record to show that relator was entitled to any specific pay raise, and an employer generally has the discretion to grant or withhold raises. Relator then cites the impending change in her work hours as a reason for quitting. Although she had been working a flexible shift, her employer needed to change her position to a full-time position, with a start time of 8:00 a.m. Although relator alleges that this schedule change would have affected her daycare arrangements, she admits that she did not know if alternative daycare was available. Moreover, we have held that childcare scheduling problems do not constitute a good reason caused by the employer for quitting work. Kampa v. Normandale Tennis Club, 393 N.W.2d 195, 197 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Nov. 17, 1986).
Finally, relator points to the denial of her request for vacation time in December 1999 as a reason to quit. Keith Larson, SPD’s chief operating officer, testified: “I said nobody in the office is taking vacation until after Christmas, * * * [b]ecause we needed to get the acquisition done.” Thus SPD had a legitimate business reason for denying relator’s request for vacation. “Generally, a substantial pay reduction or an unreasonable change in terms of employment gives an employee good cause for quitting.” Wood v. Menard, Inc., 490 N.W.2d 441, 443 (Minn. App. 1992). Here, relator’s pay was not reduced, and her other complaints do not constitute an “unreasonable change in terms of employment.” Id.
Relator never complained to Larson about any of these problems before abruptly quitting her job. Larson testified: “I wish [relator] had talked to me and maybe we could have made some accommodation.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(b) (Supp. 1999), specifically provides:
If an applicant was subjected to adverse working conditions by the employer, the applicant must complain to the employer and give the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the adverse working conditions before that may be considered a good reason caused by the employer for quitting.
We have also held that
[a]n employee who does not report offensive work conditions to his employer before quitting forecloses a finding of good cause attributable to the employer.
Burtman v. Dealers Disc. Supply, 347 N.W.2d 292, 294 (Minn. App. 1984), review denied (Minn. July 26, 1984). See also Larson v. Department of Econ. Sec., 281 N.W.2d 667, 669 (Minn. 1979) (employee had duty to inform employer of continuing abuse from co-workers to allow employer opportunity to correct situation and, without such information, employer not responsible for causing employee’s unemployment).
“[U]nreasonable or excessive demands placed on the employee by the employer are good cause for termination attributable to the employer.” Shanahan, 495 N.W.2d at 897. However, the commissioner’s representative found that:
After careful consideration of [relator’s] grievances, we are unpersuaded that either when considered individually or together, her complaints constituted legally sufficient grounds to terminate her employment. It was clearly within the employer’s discretion to alter [relator’s] job responsibilities, to deny her request for a wage increase, and to deny her request for vacation time off from work, due to business needs. Further, it appears that the employer made a business decision to change [relator’s] starting work time from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and we are not persuaded that this change was so significant that it would cause the average reasonable employee to terminate her employment.
Good cause to quit does not arise from “an employee’s irreconcilable differences with the employer” or where an employee is “simply frustrated or dissatisfied with [her] working conditions.” Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass’n, 409 N.W.2d 23, 26 (Minn. App. 1987) (quotation and citations omitted). We agree with the commissioner’s representative that relator’s complaints were not so significant that they would compel the average reasonable employee to terminate her employment, a conclusion that the evidence in the record reasonably supports.