This opinion will be unpublished and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
Lewis H. Davis,
Majerus Garage & Oil Co.,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed April 13, 2004
Department of Employment and Economic Development
Agency File No. 5281-03
Lee B. Nelson, Katrina I. Gulstad, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development)
Majerus Garage & Oil Co., 602 Main Street, Bellechester, MN 55027 (respondent)
Lewis H. Davis, 217 County Road 9, Goodhue, MN 55027 (pro se relator)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.
Relator, a former employee, challenges the decision by the commissioner’s representative that relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because he quit without good cause. Because there is evidence sustaining the commissioner’s representative’s findings, we affirm.
Relator Lewis Davis was employed for about 10 months by respondent Majerus Garage as a full-time mechanic. Relator had 20 to 25 years’ experience as a mechanic; his supervisor, Jason Majerus, was a younger man, and this bothered relator.
On relator’s last day of work, the supervisor approached relator early in the morning to discuss problems with relator’s performance and his attitude. A “heated discussion” ensued, which resulted in the supervisor telling relator to go home for the rest of the day, cool off, and change his attitude to his job. Relator then demanded his final paycheck, signed a termination form, and left.
A departmental adjudicator denied relator unemployment benefits on the ground that he had quit without good cause attributable to Majerus Garage. He appealed and, following a hearing, an unemployment law judge (ULJ) determined that relator had been discharged and was entitled to benefits. Majerus Garage appealed, and the commissioner’s representative reversed, determining that relator quit without good cause attributable to his employer. Relator challenges this decision.
D E C I S I O N
We review the commissioner’s representative’s findings of fact in the light most favorable to the decision and will not disturb them if there is evidence that reasonably tends to sustain them. Schmidgall v. Filmtec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002). “Whether an employee has been discharged or voluntarily quit is a question of fact.” Midland Elec., Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 812 (Minn. App. 1985).
The commissioner’s representative found that:
[Relator] had a personality conflict with his supervisor. [Relator] felt that the supervisor was too critical of his performance and tried too hard to prove he was the boss.
On March 6, 2003, the supervisor had a discussion with [relator] in which he raised concerns about [relator’s] performance and attitude. [Relator] took issue with the supervisor’s comments, lost his temper, and quit.
The supervisor never said or did anything to give [relator] a reasonable basis for believing he no longer would be allowed to work for Majerus Garage in any capacity.
. . . .
The parties presented conflicting testimony and documentary evidence regarding the nature of [relator’s] separation from employment. Majerus Garage maintained that [relator] quit. [Relator] made admissions against interest that supported Majerus Garage’s position on this issue. A preponderance of the evidence supports a finding that [relator] quit.
. . . The evidence did not show that the manner in which Majerus Garage treated [relator] was so hostile that it would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remain in the employment. A preponderance of the evidence does not support a finding that [relator] had a good reason caused by Majerus Garage for quitting.
The evidence reasonably tends to sustain these findings. First, the termination form relator signed has “voluntary” circled. Second, Richard Majerus testified that
when [relator] was told to go home, he knew upfront it was to go home for the day to cool off and to get a change of attitude about the job. He was not told he was fired. It was his own decision to pick up his last pay, his paycheck..
When relator was asked if he had any questions for Richard Majerus, relator answered, “No, I think he’s just pretty much truthful as [to] everything that he says . . . .”
A discharge occurs “when any words or actions by an employer would lead a reasonable employee to believe that the employer will no longer allow the employee to work for the employer in any capacity.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 5(a) (2002). Relator does not point to any words or actions by his supervisor that would have led a reasonable employee to believe he was no longer allowed to work for Majerus Garage.
Relator himself testified that he and the supervisor had a “heated discussion,” that the supervisor said, “I think you need to leave, you need to go home,” that relator said, “[I]f I’m going home, I want my paycheck,” and that the supervisor then said, “[W]ell, we need to sign this termination form.” The supervisor never told relator he was fired or that he could not come back; rather, the supervisor interpreted relator’s request for his paycheck to mean that relator was quitting. If relator had not intended to quit, he could have said so.
Relator also testified that, after they signed the termination form, he telephoned his wife to bring the truck to pick up his tools, he and the supervisor “discussed things for the next hour until my wife got there,” the topic of their discussion was “[m]echanical stuff, decision making,” and the discussion was comparable to discussions he, the supervisor, and Richard Majerus had previously had on “all [aspects] of the management situation.” The lengthy, and apparently amicable, discussion between relator and the supervisor might have followed relator’s quitting, but would hardly have followed relator’s being fired.
Testimony also showed that relator was in the process of completing a computer programming degree, that he planned to look for other employment when he finished the degree, and that he had told his employer that he was planning to look for other employment. Again, this is consistent with quitting rather than with being discharged.
Evidence sustains the findings on which the commissioner’s representative’s based the decision that relator quit his employment.