This opinion will be unpublished and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

A03-712

 

Kathleen I. Wadsworth,
Relator,

vs.

US Federal Employees,
Respondent,

Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Respondent.

 

Filed March 30, 2004

Affirmed

Wright, Judge

 

Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 16908 02

 

 

Carla C. Kjellberg, 333 West Parkdale Place, 1660 South Highway 100, St. Louis Park, MN  55416 (for relator)

 

US Federal Employees, 2825 Lone Oak Parkway, Eagan, MN  55121 (respondent)

 

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

 

            Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Wright, Judge.

 

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N

 

WRIGHT, Judge

 

Relator appeals the decision of the commissioner’s representative that realtor quit her employment without good reason attributable to her employer.  We affirm.

FACTS

 

Relator Kathleen Wadsworth was employed by the United States Postal Service from May 5, 2001, through September 7, 2002, where she worked as a casual clerk and rural carrier associate.  Her job responsibilities included dispatching, loading and unloading trucks, and sorting and delivering mail.  Because of Wadsworth’s seniority, she had priority over other employees to deliver mail on route 4 if the regular mail carrier for that route was unable to work.  Wadsworth was also required to deliver mail on other routes as assigned. 

In May 2001, postmaster Larry Matson hugged Wadsworth.  Wadsworth complained, and Matson was warned against such conduct by his supervisor.  After this incident, Wadsworth made no additional complaints regarding Matson’s behavior.  In January 2002, Wadsworth began a personal relationship with Sherry Giesen, who later became Wadsworth’s supervisor.  Wadsworth claimed the relationship was sexual.  But Giesen denied this characterization of the relationship.  The relationship ended in July 2002.

Wadsworth was scheduled to deliver mail on route 7 on September 7, 2002.  On the evening of September 6, the carrier for route 4 notified Wadsworth that she was sick and needed her route covered.  Wadsworth agreed to cover route 4 for her co-worker.  Prior to Wadsworth’s arrival at work on September 7, Giesen was notified of the mail carrier’s illness.  Giesen assigned the mail carrier for route 10 to cover route 4.  Delivery responsibilities for route 10, a shorter route, were then divided between two mail carriers and added to their regular assignments.  When Wadsworth learned that she was not assigned to route 4, she complained to Matson who advised her that she would have to deliver the mail on route 7.  Immediately thereafter, Wadsworth quit and never returned. 

On September 8, 2002, Wadsworth established an unemployment benefits account with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.  A department adjudicator determined that Wadsworth was entitled to unemployment benefits.  The postal service appealed the decision to an unemployment law judge, who rejected Wadsworth’s claim that Giesen retaliated against her for ending their relationship and found that Wadsworth’s decision to quit was not for good reason caused by the employer.  The commissioner’s representative affirmed, finding that the evidence failed to establish that Wadsworth was harassed “sexually or otherwise” and concluding that Wadsworth did not “quit her employment because of a good reason caused by the employer or for any other reason which is an exception to disqualification.”  This appeal followed. 

D E C I S I O N

 

We review the findings of the commissioner’s representative rather than those of the unemployment law judge.  Tuff v. Knitcraft, 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995).  In doing so, we view the factual findings in the light most favorable to the decision to determine whether the evidence reasonably sustains them.  Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).  Whether an employee has a good reason to quit is a question of law that we review de novo.  Id. 

An employee who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the employee quits for 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 remaining in the employment.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a)(1), (2) (2002).  The test for reasonableness is as applied to the average person and not to the supersensitive.  Ferguson v. Dep’t of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976).  A good personal reason to quit, however, does not constitute a good reason caused by the employer.  Edward, 611 N.W.2d at 368. 

Wadsworth argues that sexual harassment by Matson and retaliation for ending her relationship with Giesen caused her to quit.  In addition to the incident when Matson hugged her, she outlines several incidents that she attributes to retaliation.  Specifically, she contends that she was forced to work on an injured ankle, she was not paid for a scheduled shift, and she was forced to work long hours and to work on her days off.  She argues that the cumulative effect of these incidents and the requirement to work route 7 on September 7, 2002, constitutes good cause to quit her employment. 

The record contains conflicting testimony as to each of the incidents that Wadsworth has identified as retaliation.  For example, Wadsworth testified that, after she injured her ankle in July 2002, Giesen required Wadsworth to complete her route because no one else was available to cover it.  But Giesen testified that Wadsworth volunteered to finish the shift after the injury.  Wadsworth did not prepare an injury report, seek medical attention, or complain to management regarding the injury.  Moreover, the injury occurred before Wadsworth’s personal relationship with Giesen ended.  Wadsworth also argues that Giesen forced her to work on short notice on her scheduled days off and to work long hours.  The record, however, establishes that Wadsworth worked an irregular schedule and that the nature of her position required her to be on call to work on short notice.  

Credibility determinations are resolved by the commissioner’s representative and will not be disturbed on appeal.  Whitehead v. Moonlight Nursing Care, Inc., 529 N.W.2d 350, 352 (Minn. App. 1995).  In reaching his decision, the commissioner’s representative was required to resolve conflicting evidence as to whether Wadsworth was harassed in retaliation for ending a sexual relationship with her supervisor.  The commissioner’s representative determined that the evidence failed to establish that Wadsworth was harassed “sexually or otherwise.”  Therefore, the evidence as to sexual harassment was considered and rejected by the commissioner’s representative as a basis for Wadsworth’s decision to quit.  In light of the deference afforded the commissioner’s representative on issues of credibility, this decision is reasonably supported by the record.  Moreover, after Wadsworth complained about Matson’s inappropriate touching in May 2001, Matson was warned by his employer, and Wadsworth did not report any additional problems of this nature.  Thus, the record also supports the conclusion that this incident, which occurred and was addressed more than one year prior to Wadsworth’s decision to quit, would not “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).   

On these facts, we conclude that Wadsworth’s dissatisfaction with her work conditions did not constitute good cause to quit attributable to her employer.  We, therefore, affirm the decision of the commissioner’s representative to deny unemployment benefits. 

            Affirmed.