This opinion will be unpublished and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

CX-01-893

 

Judith Langmade,

Relator,

 

vs.

 

Glen Oaks Dental PLLP,

Respondent,

 

Commissioner of Economic Security,

Respondent.

 

Filed November 20, 2001

Affirmed

Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge

 

Department of Economic Security

File No. 154 01

 

 

Judith Langmade, 21914 Quincy Street Northeast, Cedar, MN 55011-9178 (relator pro se)

 

Glen Oaks Dental, PLLP, Attn: Paul D. Craven, 2 South Pine Drive, #M, Circle Pines, MN 55104 (respondent/employer)

 

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

 

 

 

            Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Schumacher, Judge. 

 

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

GORDON W. SHUMAKER, Judge

            Relator argues that the commissioner’s representative erred in affirming the unemployment law judge’s decision that relator did not have a good reason attributable to her employer to quit her job.  Because relator provided no evidence to support her claim that she quit for a good reason attributable to her employer, we affirm.

FACTS

Relator was employed by Glen Oaks Dental, a partnership formed by Dr. Craven and Dr. Bejarano.  Relator did not work on Fridays, and worked half-days on Mondays.  On January 15, 2001, Dr. Craven asked the receptionist to schedule a review meeting with relator.  When the receptionist relayed this request to relator, relator replied that she was not interested in what either doctor had to say, and no meeting was scheduled. 

On Thursday, January 18, 2001, Dr. Craven asked relator if she would be willing to remain at the office after her shift to attend a review meeting and discuss her “performance issues.”  Relator told Dr. Craven that she had indicated to the receptionist that she was not interested in what either doctor had to say, and Dr. Craven responded that they needed to discuss the issues, unless relator preferred to “part * * * ways.”  Relator then agreed to attend the meeting.

At the meeting, relator’s performance issues were discussed, including “inaccurate input of patient data, unwillingness to do certain tasks, leav[ing] early and general demeanor and attitude.”  These same issues had been discussed in previous reviews.  Both doctors were scheduled to conduct patient exams during the meeting, and they left the meeting for about five to ten minutes.  They asked relator to remain in the office while they conducted their exams so they could finish the discussion.  When they returned from the exams, relator was gone.

Relator called the office after the meeting and told Dr. Bejarano that she was upset and she didn’t think that she wanted to continue to work there.  Dr. Bejarano told relator that they wanted to make things work, and asked her to reconsider her decision over the weekend and to call him at home on Sunday with her decision.  She agreed.

On Sunday, relator phoned Dr. Bejarano and told him that she was not coming to work on Monday.  He asked if she was “sure if that is what [she wanted] to do * * * ,” and told her that he, as well as Dr. Craven, would be willing to sit down again to discuss “these issues.”  She declined.

Relator applied for, and was denied, unemployment benefits.  She appealed this initial determination to an unemployment law judge.  Relator submitted documents prior to the hearing before the unemployment law judge, which indicated that she had chosen not to attend the hearing personally, but asked that the documents be considered. 

After the hearing, the unemployment law judge found that relator quit without good cause attributable to the employer.  Relator appealed this decision to the commissioner’s representative, who affirmed the unemployment law judge’s decision.  Relator appeals to this court.

D E C I S I O N

 

            Relator concedes that she quit her employment, but argues that she did so because of a good reason attributable to her employer.  On appeal, a reviewing court must examine the decision of the commissioner’s representative, rather than that of the unemployment law judge.  Kalberg v. Park & Recreation Bd., 563 N.W.2d 275, 276 (Minn. App. 1997).  While this court defers to the commissioner’s representative’s findings of fact if they are reasonably supported by the evidence in the record, the court exercises its independent judgment with respect to questions of law.  Ress v. Abbott N.W. Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989). 

            A relator who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the relator quit because of a good reason caused by the employer.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (2000).  A good reason caused by the employer is one that is directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible, and that is significant in that it would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a) (2000).

Relator argues that she quit because she was harassed and subjected to intimidating comments by Dr. Craven, which caused her to have tension headaches.  Relator may establish that she quit because of a good cause attributable to her employer if the employer had notice of the alleged harassment but “failed to take timely and appropriate measures to prevent it.”  Wetterhahn v. Kimm Co., 430 N.W.2d 4, 6 (Minn. App. 1988) (citation omitted); see also Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(b) (2000) (if relator is subjected to adverse working conditions by the employer, relator must complain to employer and give employer reasonable opportunity to correct adverse working conditions, before quitting may be for good cause attributable to employer).  An employee’s failure to complain about the harassment and intimidation before quitting may foreclose a determination of good cause to quit that is attributable to the employer.  Haskins, 558 N.W.2d at 511.

Relator argues in her brief that the intimidation and harassment occurred for some time before she quit, and that she brought her concerns to the attention of both doctors.  However, the only evidence relator provides to support these claims is a patient’s letter that states that the patient mentioned to the relator that he thought Dr. Craven “was really a jerk,” and a doctor’s chart diagnosing her headaches as being caused by stress at work.

Dr. Craven testified at the hearing that he was only aware of one situation in which he may have made a comment to relator in front of a patient:

There was a situation where I asked her to set up a financial arrangement and she said that she forgot to do it after the patient had left.  I went up and asked her if she had made the arrangements.  She said no and said that she had forgotten.  I had another patient back in the chair and she responded to me I’ve been working her[e] long enough, I know what you want, what is this pick on [relator] day.  I mentioned to her that she spoke in a loud voice and that patient may have heard that. 

 

Dr. Craven also testified that he was not aware of any times that he made intimidating comments to relator in front of patients. 

            In affirming the unemployment law judge’s decision, the commissioner’s representative found that the evidence did not show whether or to what extent relator brought her concerns to her employer to allow the opportunity to correct the situation.  We defer credibility determinations to the commissioner’s representative.  Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995).  Since no evidence was provided to show when and whether relator notified her employer about her concerns, the commissioner’s representative did not err in finding that relator did not quit because of a good reason attributable to her employer.

            Affirmed.