This opinion will be unpublished and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
Wendell E. Maddox,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development
Filed April 13, 2004
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 14069 02
Wendell E. Maddox, 650 Whitney Ranch Drive, Number 2625, Henderson, NV 89014 (pro se relator)
VSI Inc., c/o Automatic Data Processing UCS, ATTN: Hearing Department, P.O. Box 6501, Diamond Bar, CA 91765-8501 (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 Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Anderson, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.
G. BARRY ANDERSON, Judge
The representative of the Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (department) disqualified relator Wendell Maddox from unemployment benefits because Maddox quit his employment and no enumerated exception to disqualification from unemployment benefits applied. We affirm.
Maddox employed by respondent VSI, Inc. from May 2002 until August 2002. On July 8, 2002, Maddox requested a voluntary leave of absence from VSI. VSI granted this request. In late July or early August 2002, Maddox contacted his immediate supervisor at VSI, Steve Woods, and told Woods that he would not return to work; Maddox requested that VSI end his employment.
A department adjudicator found that VSI laid off Maddox; Maddox was, therefore, entitled to receive unemployment benefits. VSI appealed this decision and in November 2002, Maddox appeared before a department unemployment law judge. VSI did not appear at the November 2002 hearing because the unemployment law judge failed to contact the company. The unemployment law judge affirmed the decision of the department adjudicator.
VSI appealed the unemployment law judge’s decision and the department remanded the matter for further consideration. In February 2003, the unemployment law judge issued his decision modifying the determination that Maddox was eligible to receive unemployment benefits; the unemployment law judge found that Maddox had quit his employment without good reason caused by his employer and was therefore disqualified from receiving benefits. Maddox appealed the decision of the unemployment law judge. In May 2003, the commissioner’s representative affirmed the decision of the unemployment law judge; Maddox was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Maddox appeals that decision.
Maddox argues on appeal that he did not quit his employment and because VSI would have laid him off from his position when he returned from leave, he is entitled to unemployment benefits. We disagree.
When an employee quits employment, and if no enumerated exception applies, that employee is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (2002). By statute, an employee quits employment “when the decision to end the employment was, at the time the employment ended, the employee’s.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 2(a) (2002). But, whether the employee voluntarily quit or was discharged is a factual determination. Midland Elec., Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 812 (Minn. App. 1985). “We review the commissioner’s representative’s factual findings in the light most favorable to his decision and will not disturb them as long as there is evidence that reasonably tends to sustain those findings.” Schmidgall v. Filmtec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002). We defer to the commissioner’s representative’s ability both to weigh conflicting evidence and to make credibility determinations about proffered testimony. Whitehead v. Moonlight Nursing Care, Inc., 529 N.W.2d 350, 352 (Minn. App. 1995); Jenson v. Dept. of Econ. Sec., 617 N.W.2d 627, 631 (Minn. App. 2000). We accord particular deference to the decision of the commissioner’s representative. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995).
Here, the commissioner’s representative concluded that Maddox quit his employment at VSI. The evidence in the record, including Woods’s testimony that Maddox quit his employment when Maddox called VSI on July 31, 2002, and told Woods that he would not return to work, reasonably sustains the commissioner’s representative’s conclusion. We will not, therefore, disturb this finding of fact. See Schmidgall, 644 N.W.2d at 804.
Further, Maddox does not argue that any exception to disqualification for quitting employment applies in this case; instead, Maddox argues that VSI laid off employees while Maddox was taking his leave of absence and that he would have been laid off if he had returned to work. The only two possible exceptions to disqualification of benefits that could apply to Maddox are that (1) he “quit because the employer notified the applicant that the applicant was going to be laid off due to lack of work within 30 calendar days,” or (2) he quit “because of good reason caused by” VSI. See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(6) (2002); subd. 1(1).
First, because it appears that the commissioner’s representative weighed the conflicting evidence and credited VSI’s account that it did not lay off employees while Maddox was on leave and that the company had work for Maddox if he had chosen to return from leave, we defer to the commissioner’s representative’s determination that Maddox was not laid off. See Whitehead, 529 N.W.2d at 352; Jenson, 617 N.W.2d at 631. Second, although we review de novo whether an employee has good cause to quit, because there is neither allegation nor evidence that Maddox quit because of good reason caused by the employer, we agree with the commissioner’s representative that this exception to disqualification from unemployment benefits does not apply. See Kehoe v. Minn. Dep’t of Econ. Sec., 568 N.W.2d 889, 890 (1997) (stating that we review de novo whether employee had good reason to quit caused by employer).
The record, when viewed in the light most favorable to the commissioner’s representative’s decision, reasonably tends to sustain the determination that Maddox quit employment with VSI and that no exception to disqualification from unemployment benefits applies in this case.