This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Greg L. Renstrom,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed March 11, 2003
Department of Economic Security
File No. 8408 01
Greg L. Renstrom, 1458 Ardenview Drive, Arden Hills, MN 55112 (relator pro se)
Michael D. O’Neill, O’Neil Grills & O’Neill, W1750 First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Kieger Enterprises).
Linda Holmes, M. Kate Chaffee, Department of Economic Security, 390 N. Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent commissioner)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
Pro se relator Greg Renstrom challenges a decision by a representative of the respondent Commissioner of Economic Security disqualifying him from receiving unemployment benefits. The commissioner’s representative determined that relator was disqualified because he quit his employment with respondent Kieger Enterprises. Because the record reasonably supports the determination that relator quit his employment after he became dissatisfied with his rate of pay, not because of any harassment on Kieger’s part, we affirm.
An employee who quits a job is not entitled to unemployment benefits unless he quits “because of a good reason caused by the employer.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (Supp. 2001). “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. 2001). A good reason caused by an employer is defined as a compelling reason for which the employer is responsible and would cause an “average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed” rather than remain employed. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a)(1), (2) (2000).
Issues involving the reason or cause of an employee’s separation from work are fact questions. Embaby v. Dep’t of Jobs & Training, 397 N.W.2d 609, 611 (Minn. App. 1986); Beyer v. Heavy Duty Air, Inc., 393 N.W.2d 380, 382 (Minn. App. 1986). Factual disputes are to be resolved by the commissioner. Harringer v. AA Portable Truck & Trailer Repair, Inc., 379 N.W.2d 222, 224 (Minn. App. 1985). Whether the reason for the employee’s separation amounts to “good cause,” however, presents a question of law and is reviewed de novo by this court. Kehoe v. Minn. Dep’t of Econ. Sec., 568 N.W.2d 889, 890 (Minn. App. 1997).
Here, the record established: (1) relator, who was employed by Kieger as a commercial driver, was originally discharged on February 3, 2001, due to his continuing dissatisfaction with his employment and his complaints about drivers working in excess of 60 hours per week; (2) Kieger did not discourage relator from reporting his concerns of excess hours to the appropriate governmental agencies; (3) Kieger rehired relator a few weeks later; (4) in May 2001, relator gave two weeks’ notice that he was quitting his employment; (5) Kieger offered to pay relator more money; and (6) in June 2001, Kieger rejected the offer and indicated that he was no longer going to work for Kieger. This evidence supports the decision of the commissioner’s representative that relator quit his employment with Kieger.
The record further establishes that relator quit not because of any harassment on Kieger’s part, but because he was unhappy with his rate of pay. At the hearing, relator acknowledged that he was dissatisfied with his rate of pay after he discovered that a recently hired coworker was earning almost as much as he was earning. Relator’s general manager testified that he had a conversation with relator a day or two prior to his departure. At that conversation, relator told the general manager that he had another job and that if he was going to stay at Kieger he needed to make as much money as other employees. When the general manager offered relator a raise, relator rejected it. The general manager further testified that relator never sat down with him to go through his concerns regarding excess hours and never complained that he was working too many hours. To the contrary, the general manager testified that relator actually told him that he wanted to work more hours.
Relator does not claim that Kieger breached any contract it had with him regarding his rate of pay, nor does he claim that Kieger failed to pay him in accordance with its agreements with him. Dissatisfaction with compensation, when the rate of pay is within the employee’s agreement, does not constitute good cause to quit. See Ryks v. Nieuwsma Livestock Equip., 410 N.W.2d 380, 382 (Minn. App. 1987) (no good cause to quit job shown where evidence failed to show that employer breached employment agreement or that employee complained of long work hours). The evidence thus reasonably supports the decision of the commissioner’s representative that relator quit his employment without good reason caused by Kieger.
On appeal, relator also complains that he was not allowed to see a document setting out the results of an investigation of Kieger’s alleged violations of federal and state driving laws. Kieger representatives were allowed to testify to the contents of the document and claimed that the document contained the conclusion that Kieger had not violated driving laws. Relator asserts that he did not receive a fair and equal hearing because had he been allowed to examine the September 2001 document, he would have been able to defend himself. Even if this document had been admitted, it would not have changed the result here, given evidence that relator quit in June 2001 because he was dissatisfied with his pay, not because of any alleged harassment or retaliation by Kieger. See Plowman v. Copeland, Buhl & Co., 261 N.W.2d 581, 585 (Minn. 1977) (holding that even if documents should have been admitted, failure to do so constitutes harmless error).
Because the evidence reasonably supports the decision of the commissioner’s representative that relator quit his job without good reason attributable to his employer, we affirm.