This opinion will be unpublished and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

A03-329

 

Gwendolyn T. Eischen,

Relator,

 

vs.

 

Labor Force of Minnesota, Inc.,

Respondent,

 

Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,

Respondent.

 

 

Filed December 23, 2003

Reversed

Randall, Judge

 

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 0188

 

Gwendolyn T. Eischen, 11827 Champlin Drive, Apt #102, Champlin, MN. 55316. (pro se relator)

 

Labor Force of Minnesota, Inc., 181 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN. 55104. (respondent-employer)

 

Lee B. Nelson and Philip B. Byrne, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 390 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN. 55101 (for respondent)

 

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

 

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

 

RANDALL, Judge

 

            In this certiorari appeal from the decision by the commissioner’s representative denying her unemployment benefits because she quit without good reason caused by the employer, relator contends that one or more of the following substantial changes in her employment are good cause for qualification of unemployment benefits for quitting under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. (3)(a) (2002): (1) a change in her schedule constituted a substantial change in her employment; (2) requiring a one hour unpaid lunch in which she was still “on call;” (3) the change in sales manager who was abusive verbally; and (4) a change in pay structure for which she had not elected to participate.  Because we agree that the substantial change in her schedule is good cause to quit under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. (3)(a), we reverse.    

FACTS

            On July 10, 1998, Labor Force of Minnesota hired relator as a customer- service representative.  Relator was the only office person at a branch location for the company.  For the first four years of employment, relator’s employment conditions were manageable.  

            In 2002, Labor Force of Minnesota informed relator that she was required to begin work at 9:00 a.m. rather than 10:00 a.m., as had been her schedule for the first four years of employment.  Relator is a single mother and the 10:00 a.m. start time allowed her to get her son off to school in the morning.  The 9:00 a.m. start time required her son to see himself off to school.  Relator notified Labor Force of Minnesota of this unmanageable aspect of her new schedule, but was told that the policies of the company require her to start at 9:00 a.m.  Relator was unable to comply with the start time and the issue was never resolved.

            On October 31, 2002, relator was in a meeting with her boss, Mr. Wassico, and two other employees when Mr. Wassico started to yell at her and the other employees.  Relator gave her two-week’s notice at that time.  This would make her intended date of termination November 14, 2002.  Mr. Wassico instructed her to leave immediately.  Relator packed her desk and left her employment that day.

            Subsequently, relator applied for unemployment benefits under the good cause exception of the unemployment compensation statute for employees voluntarily terminating employment.  The department denied benefits and the administrative law judge affirmed the decision. The representative of the commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Economic Security determined that relator was disqualified for unemployment benefits, finding no good cause to quit.  Relator appeals this disqualification from unemployment benefits.

D E C I S I O N

The findings of the court are reviewed in the light most favorable to these findings and will not be reversed as long as the evidence reasonably supports them. Schmidgall v. Filmtec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002).  On questions of law, however, we express independent judgment. McGowan v. Executive Express Transp. Enters., Inc., 420 N.W.2d 592, 594 (Minn. 1988).   

            Under Minn. Stat. § 286.095, subd. 3(a) (2002), good cause to quit is one that is directly related to employment and for which the employer is responsible, and is significant enough to compel an average, reasonable worker to quit.  A good reason to quit is one that is “real, not imaginary, substantial, not trifling, and reasonable, not whimsical.”  Ferguson v. Dep’t of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976).

            Here, relator’s change in schedule was a substantial change in her employment conditions.  Relator could not ignore the responsibility to her son’s safety in the morning in getting him off to school.  As a single mother, she had no other way to fulfill this responsibility except quitting this job and attempting down the road to find one with a better schedule.  Relator notified respondent of the unworkable effect of the schedule change on her family life; she was provided no manageable remedy even though relator had started her workday at 10:00 a.m. for the previous four years of employment, and that starting time had been known by her employer and agreed to for the benefit of relator’s home life.

We do not find that the 10:00 a.m. starting time was so vested in relator that she has some kind of cause of action against her former employer to maintain it.  Respondent, as an employer, can change working conditions and times as it sees fit.  Respondent does not “owe” relator a job with a 10:00 a.m. starting time.  We simply conclude that the effect on relator’s family life because of the starting time change was substantial, and this fact situation fits under the exception in Minn. Stat. § 286.095, subd. 3(a).  Relator is entitled to unemployment compensation benefits.

Reversed.