This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).






Curtis D. Howard,





Merit Printing, Inc.,



Commissioner of Economic Security,



Filed February 4, 2003


Kalitowski, Judge


Department of Economic Security

File No. 1248501


Peter B. Knapp, Christopher T. Kalla (certified student attorney), William Mitchell Law Clinic, 875 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 (for relator)


Merit Printing, 117 North Second Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (respondent)


Linda A. Holmes, Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)


            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Willis, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Relator challenges the representative of the commissioner’s denial of his request for unemployment benefits, arguing that he quit his employment for a good reason attributable to his employer.  We affirm.



In order for a person who voluntarily quits his employment to receive unemployment benefits, the record must show that he “quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the employer.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2002).  The question of whether an employee voluntarily terminated employment with good cause attributable to the employer is a question of law, which we review de novo.  Biegner v. Bloomington Chrysler/Plymouth, Inc., 426 N.W.2d 483, 485 (Minn. App. 1988).  But the commissioner’s findings of fact will be sustained if there is evidence in the record to reasonably support them.  White v. Metro. Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). 

Relator argues that he was demoted because of his speech impediment and that the demotion constituted a good reason to quit caused by his employer.  We disagree.

First, the commissioner found that relator was demoted because of unsatisfactory performance, rather than because of his speech impediment.  Relator’s testimony before the unemployment law judge indicates that he was spoken to several times about shipping jobs that were performed incorrectly and the need for improvement.  Further, relator and his supervisor testified that relator had the speech impediment at the time he was promoted and was told that so long as his performance was satisfactory, the speech impediment was not a problem.  Thus, the evidence in the record supports the commissioner’s finding that relator was demoted for unsatisfactory performance, rather than because of his speech impediment.

We next determine whether relator’s demotion gave him good reason to quit.  Good reason to quit must be “directly related to the employment * * * for which the employer is responsible” and must be significant enough to “compel an average, reasonable worker to quit.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a)(1), (2) (2002).  A good reason may be a substantial adverse change in wages or other terms of employment.  Id., subd. 3(c).  Good cause attributable to the employer does not include irreconcilable differences with an employer or mere dissatisfaction with working conditions.  Portz v. Pipestone Skelgas, 397 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1986). 

It is undisputed that after his demotion, relator’s pay, hours, and benefits were unchanged.  The record indicates that relator would have worked in the same department, performing similar tasks, but without the supervisory component.  Although relator would no longer have the ability to discipline other employees, he acknowledged on the record that he had never “written up” or given pay reviews to another employee.  The evidence also indicates that the nonsupervisory job to which relator was demoted did not require substantially less skill than his previous position.  And although relator claims to have felt humiliated by the demotion, this dissatisfaction with his employment does not constitute a good reason to quit caused by his employer.  Portz, 397 N.W.2d at 14. 

Moreover, even if we were to conclude that the change in positions was substantially adverse to relator, under these facts his demotion did not constitute good cause for him to quit his employment.  Relator was demoted because he failed to improve his performance after numerous warnings.  Rather than discharge relator, the employer gave him the opportunity to remain employed at the same wage.  Relator said he would accept the demotion if he were given a raise.  When this request was denied, relator chose to resign.  A reasonable employee, demoted for poor performance, would choose to continue working at the same wage rather than become unemployed.  See, e.g., Dachel v. Ortho Met, Inc., 528 N.W.2d 268, 271 (Minn. App. 1995).  We conclude that because relator’s demotion does not constitute a good reason caused by the employer that would lead a reasonable worker to quit, relator is not entitled to unemployment compensation.