This opinion will be unpublished and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
Marvin D. Wolf,
Universal Sign Co.,
Commissioner of Employment and
Filed May 25, 2004
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 6633 03
Marvin D. Wolf, 1907 Dorothea Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55116 (pro se relator)
Universal Sign Co., 1033 Thomas Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104 (respondent)
Lee B. Nelson, Katrina I. Gulstad, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 390 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
In this unemployment benefits case, the commissioner’s representative determined that relator Marvin D. Wolf was disqualified from receiving benefits because he quit his employment with respondent Universal Sign Co. without good reason caused by the employer. Because the evidence reasonably supports finding that relator quit his job after receiving a verbal reprimand from Universal regarding his practice of advising clients to call his cell phone with service requests, rather than Universal’s main office, and because an average, reasonable employee under similar circumstances would not have quit, we affirm the decision of the commissioner’s representative.
An employee who quits a job is not entitled to receive unemployment benefits unless one of eight exceptions to disqualification applies. See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (2002). One of those exceptions is afforded to an individual who quits “because of a good reason caused by the employer.” Id., subd. 1(1).
Relator argues that he did not quit his employment with Universal, but that he was discharged when the president of the company told him in a meeting on March 24, 2003, that he would “no longer be an employee” but would be considered an “independent contractor.” The evidence in the record, however, reasonably supports the following findings made by the commissioner’s representative: (1) relator, who was employed by Universal as a salesman, had instructed his clients to call his cell phone with service requests, rather than the main office; (2) at the March 24 meeting, Universal’s president advised relator that he did not want this practice to continue because relator appeared to be acting as an independent contractor rather than a team player; and (3) relator walked out during this meeting and did not return to work.
Relator challenges the veracity of Universal’s witnesses, including Universal’s president and one of its electricians, both of whom were present at the March 24 meeting. Relator claims that Universal’s president told him that he was no longer an employee and would be considered an independent contractor. Universal’s witnesses, however, both testified that the president told relator that he was acting like an independent contractor and not like a team player, and both denied that the president changed relator’s status to an independent contractor. The commissioner’s representative chose to accept the testimony of Universal’s witnesses and to reject relator’s claim that the president told him he was no longer an employee. We will not disturb credibility determinations made by the commissioner’s representative. Whitehead v. Moonlight Nursing Care, Inc., 529 N.W.2d 350, 352 (Minn. App. 1995). Nor will we reweigh the evidence on review. Id.
Whether an employee has quit his job or was terminated is a question of fact to be determined by the commissioner’s representative. Lilledahl v. Process Displays Co., 413 N.W.2d 273, 274 (Minn. App. 1987). A “quit” occurs “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). By contrast, 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).
Here, the evidence in the record reasonably supports finding that it was relator’s decision to walk out of the March 24 meeting and never return to work. Universal’s witnesses both testified that relator walked out of the meeting, stating that he was “done” or “finished.” Both further testified that they understood that relator did not want to change his habit of having clients call his cell phone and that he quit his job. This evidence reasonably supports finding that the decision to quit was relator’s and that the actions of Universal’s president would not have led a reasonable employee to believe that he could no longer work for Universal in any capacity. We therefore affirm the finding of the commissioner’s representative that relator quit his job with Universal.
The issue of whether an employee is not disqualified from receiving benefits because he had a good reason to quit is a question of law for this court. See Peppi v. Phyllis Wheatley Cmty. Ctr., 614 N.W.2d 750, 752 (Minn. App. 2000); Wood v. Menard, Inc., 490 N.W.2d 441, 443 (Minn. App. 1992). A good reason is defined as a “significant” reason for which the employer is responsible and that “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). When the circumstances surrounding relator’s decision to quit are examined, we cannot conclude that an average, reasonable worker would have been compelled to quit; rather, an average, reasonable worker would have remained at the meeting and continued to discuss whether or not clients should call his cell phone with service requests. Mere dissatisfaction or disagreement with an employer over job duties or requirements does not necessarily constitute good reason caused by an employer for quitting. See, e.g., Souder v. Ziegler, Inc., 424 N.W.2d 834, 836 (Minn. App. 1988) (holding that employee who walked off job after receiving verbal warning had no reason to believe that she was fired); Portz v. Pipestone Skelgas, 397 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1986) (stating that good cause does not encompass situations where employee is simply frustrated or dissatisfied with others at work or with working conditions).
We therefore affirm the decision of the commissioner’s representative that relator quit his job without a good reason caused by Universal.