This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Grossman Chevrolet Co., Inc.,
Commissioner of Employment
and Economic Development,
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 15036 02
Noushin Shafiee, 4950 193rd Street, Farmington, MN 55024-9295 (pro se relator)
Grossman Chevrolet Co., Inc., 1200 West 141st Street, Burnsville, MN 55337-4437 (respondent)
Lee B. Nelson, Philip B. Byrne, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge; Harten, Judge; and Anderson, Judge.
Relator challenges the denial of unemployment benefits based on the determination of the commissioner’s representative that relator quit her employment without good reason caused by her employer and without medical necessity to do so. We affirm.
Relator Noushin Shafiee was employed by respondent Grossman Chevrolet Co., Inc. from December 12, 1997, to August 28, 2002. As an office manager, she earned an annual salary of $55,000. Her duties included human resources management, payroll preparation, accounting, training new employees, and supervising employees. Shafiee testified that, in addition to performing her job, she was covering the work responsibilities of vacant positions. Shafiee worked over 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday.
Because financial statements needed to be completed by the 10th of every month, Shafiee was required to schedule her vacations after the 10th of the month. Shafiee understood that this vacation restriction was a requirement of her position. She earned two weeks of vacation per year, but rarely used the entire allotment. For example, she carried over eight days of vacation from 2001 to 2002.
On August 12, 2002, Shafiee mentioned to her supervisor, the corporate controller, that her training responsibilities and the additional work she performed covering two vacant positions were causing her to feel stressed. The controller responded that Shafiee should work more hours. Two days later, when the controller assigned Shafiee to train a part-time seasonal employee who was starting on September 3, Shafiee advised the controller that she would be on vacation that week. The controller informed Shafiee that she was not permitted to take her vacation then.
Upon learning that she could not take her vacation as planned, Shafiee submitted to the controller a letter of resignation that was effective in two weeks. The resignation letter does not include a reason for Shafiee’s resignation. When the controller asked Shafiee to remain on the job longer than two weeks, she declined because she planned to take her vacation. That evening, Shafiee called the controller at his home to rescind her resignation. The controller stated that they would discuss the matter the next day. The following morning, the controller advised Shafiee that her position had been filled by the employee that Shafiee had been assigned to train.
Shafiee applied for unemployment benefits on September 9, 2002. The commissioner’s representative concluded that Shafiee quit her employment and does not qualify under any of the exceptions for receiving unemployment benefits. This appeal followed.
We review the decision by the commissioner’s representative rather than that of the unemployment law judge. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). In doing so, we view the factual findings of the commissioner’s representative “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. Metro. Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). Whether an employee has good cause to quit is a question of law, which we review de novo. Peppi v. Phyllis Wheatley Cmty. Ctr., 614 N.W.2d 750, 752 (Minn. App. 2000).
Shafiee’s unsuccessful attempt to withdraw her letter of resignation does not change her status as an employee who quit her employment. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 2(c) (2002). Under Minnesota law, “[a]n employee who seeks to withdraw a previously submitted notice of quitting shall be considered to have quit the employment if the employer does not agree that the notice may be withdrawn.” Id.
An employee who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the employee “quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the employer.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2002). A good reason to quit is “directly related to the employment . . . for which the employer is responsible” and so significant that it would “compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remain in the employment.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a)(1), (2) (2002). An employee is not disqualified from receiving benefits where serious illness makes it medically necessary to quit. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(7) (2002).
Shafiee argues that she qualifies for unemployment benefits for two reasons: (1) it was “medically necessary” for her to quit and (2) she had a “good reason [to quit] caused by the employer.” In order to qualify under the medical-necessity exception, an applicant must make “reasonable efforts to remain in that employment in spite of the serious illness or injury.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(7). Reasonable efforts “are those a reasonable individual would make if interested in remaining with the employer. Id. Moreover, to establish that it was medically necessary to quit, an employee must have informed the employer of the serious illness or injury and requested accommodation. Id.
Although Shafiee informed the controller that she was experiencing stress from her job, she did not advise her employer that she was seeking any treatment for the stress or request an accommodation. The record is devoid of any medical evidence as to the existence of a medical condition, the nature of the medical condition, or that the condition required Shafiee to quit. Moreover, Shafiee’s request to withdraw her resignation without a change in work conditions contradicts her claim that it was medically necessary to quit. The dearth of evidence of a medical necessity leads us to conclude that the denial of unemployment benefits based on this exception was not erroneous.
We also conclude that Shafiee did not quit for a good reason caused by her employer. Unreasonable or excessive demands placed on the employee by the employer are good cause to quit attributable to the employer. Shanahan v. Dist. Mem’l Hosp., 495 N.W.2d 894, 897 (Minn. App. 1993); see also Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978)(concluding that doubling of work hours and responsibilities constituted unreasonable and excessive demands to establish good reason caused by employer); Porrazzo v. Nabisco, Inc., 360 N.W.2d 662, 663 (Minn. App. 1985) (concluding 55-hour workweeks, pay structure for overtime, and stressful relationship with supervisor constituted unreasonable demands). The demands placed on Shafiee, however, were neither unreasonable nor excessive.
Shafiee worked 40 to 50 hours per week. But she never took work home or worked weekends. Although Shafiee could not take vacation at the beginning of the month because of her job responsibilities, she was aware of this restriction and she does not claim that it was a change in her work conditions. In light of the circumstances in which Shafiee’s request for vacation was denied, the record fails to establish that the employer’s action would “compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment,” as required under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a)(2). We, therefore, conclude that Shafiee’s work conditions did not constitute good cause to quit.
Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the commissioner’s representative that Shafiee is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.