This opinion will be unpublished and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

A03-1780

 

 

Lisa D. Good,

Relator,

 

vs.

 

Northwest Respiratory Services, LLC.,

Respondent,

 

Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,

Respondent.

 

 

Filed ­­­July 13, 2004

Affirmed
Harten, Judge

 

 

Department of Employment and Economic Development

Agency File No. 9023-03

 

 

Lisa D. Good, 8639 Zenith Road, Bloomington, MN 55431 (pro se relator)

 

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

 

Nancy S. Flury, Lindquist & Vennum, 4200 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent Northwest Respiratory Services LLC)

 

            Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Minge, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

 

HARTEN, Judge

           

Relator challenges the commissioner’s representative’s finding that she quit her employment without good reason caused by the employer.  Because there is evidence supporting that finding, we affirm.

FACTS

 

            Respondent Northwest Respiratory Services, LLC, employed relator Lisa D. Good  as customer services manager for about 18 months, from November 2001 to May 2003.  Two incidents during that period provide the basis for relator’s claim that she quit for good reason caused by respondent. 

The first incident occurred when relator had been employed about two months.  She purchased $57 worth of pizza for a staff meeting.  Relator’s supervisor said she should purchase less expensive refreshments for staff meetings.  Relator became irritated and said she would pay for the pizza herself.  The supervisor said relator was not expected to spend her own money on refreshments, but was expected to choose less expensive refreshments.  Relator reiterated that she would pay for the pizza, and the supervisor said, “[Y]ou’re just not getting it.”  Both parties were angry and walked away.  That was on a Friday afternoon; the following Monday, the supervisor apologized to relator.

            The second incident occurred after relator had been employed about eight months.  Among relator’s responsibilities was seeing that her staff did not become noisy and remained on task.  One afternoon, her staff was making significant noise.  Relator’s supervisor asked her if she would come into his office to discuss the situation.  She preceded him into the office and claims he touched her shoulders from behind as she entered it; he claims he “ushered” her into the office but did not push her.  Relator did not mention the incident to her supervisor but, a few days later, she mentioned it to the company president, saying she didn’t know if she could work with the supervisor.  Relator testified that the president told her that she “need[ed] to talk to [the supervisor]  . . . [and] to find a way to get along with him” and that she “said all right and . . . went back to work.”  Relator never mentioned the incident to the supervisor.  However, the supervisor learned of relator’s belief that he had pushed her about ten months later, when another employee referred to it during a meeting.  The supervisor said he did not recall the incident, from which relator inferred that the company president had never mentioned the incident to the supervisor.  But the supervisor testified that, during his annual review, the company president had told him that relator had complained of being pushed and, if so, such behavior was intolerable. 

            Relator took a vacation from 17 to 29 April, worked a few days, then quit without giving notice.  Respondent’s human resources representative (HRR) later called relator to do an exit interview.  She testified that:

[Relator] felt overwhelmed by the position and felt the duties required two people, a supervisor under her, -- involvement in appointment to committees and on special projects.  She felt her staff was especially hostile to her after she returned from vacation.  It [relator’s decision to quit] was task and job related. . . . Having been aware [of] . . . [relator]’s reaction as to the pizza incident and then later . . . the alleged ushering thing I did ask [relator] at the end of our conversation . . . how have things been going with [your supervisor], and she said, this is absolutely true, she said, they’ve gotten better.  And we left it, there was no more discussion.

 

 Relator corroborated this by testifying that she had in fact told the HRR that the supervisor’s behavior had improved.

            Relator sought unemployment benefits on the ground that she quit her job for good reason caused by her employer.  A Department of Economic Security adjudicator found no good reason caused by the employer and denied benefits.  Relator appealed, and an Unemployment Law Judge (ULJ) reversed the denial.  Respondent appealed, and the commissioner’s representative (CR) reversed the ULJ.  Relator now challenges the CR’s decision.

D E C I S I O N

            On appeal, this court reviews the decision of the CR, not that of the ULJ.  Kalberg v. Park & Recreation Bd., 563 N.W.2d 275, 276 (Minn. App. 1997).  An employee who quits employment is disqualified from unemployment benefits unless, interalia, the employee “quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the employer.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2002).  Relator challenges the CR’s findings of fact.  Those findings are reviewed “in the light most favorable to the commissioner’s decision” and are not disturbed “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). 

            Relator challenges the CR’s finding that her supervisor

was concerned that the employees in the customer service area were at times noisy and talking and not always attending to their responsibilities.  On several occasions, he mentioned to [relator] that she needed to control the employees in the customer service area and stop them from talking and making noise.  [Relator] felt that [her supervisor] tended to “rant and rave” about the conduct of the employees . . . .  

 

The CR was quoting relator, who described her supervisor as “ranting and raving.”  Relator herself testified that the supervisor wanted the employees to be quiet and working, not talking and doing their hair.  Evidence supports the finding.

            Relator also challenges the finding that

[w]hile on the way to the [supervisor’s] office, [the supervisor] bumped or pushed [relator] from behind.  [Relator] did not mention the incident to the [supervisor].  However, she did contact a person in human resources and she also spoke with the president of the employer.  The president recommended to [relator] that she speak directly with the [supervisor] concerning the issue.  [Relator] was afraid of the [supervisor] and she did not speak to him concerning the incident.  Thereafter, no further incidents of pushing or hitting occurred during [relator’s] employment.

 

Again, the record supports this finding. A few days after the incident, relator wrote a memo in which she described the occurrence this way:[1]

            As we were walking to [the supervisor’s] office, I came ahead of him and stopped as he was talking to me.  He was angry, I then turned around again to head toward his office and felt him push me from behind, I then again stopped . . . and let him finish his complaint.  I never made it to his office.

 

A year after the incident, she testified that “I felt his hands on my shoulders, it was my shoulder blades going forward.  I did kind of jump forward, I did not fall, I just kind of fell a little bit forward and caught myself . . . .”  When asked during the hearing if the contemporaneous memo mentioned feeling the supervisor’s hands on her shoulder blades, relator agreed that it did not and said she “probably should have” included the allegation that the supervisor pushed her. 


Relator did not quit her job until months after the incidents that allegedly caused her to quit.  Events occurring several months prior to quitting are not deemed good cause.  See Biegner v. Bloomington Chrysler/Plymouth, Inc., 426 N.W.2d 483, 486 (Minn. App. 1988) (harassing remarks that “had ceased approximately three months before [an employee] discontinued his employment” were not the cause of the quit).  Moreover, relator’s testimony indicated that her reason for quitting her job did not involve her supervisor.  When asked why she quit on that particular day, relator said,

 I think it was the feeling of all the overwhelming feelings come back to me because I had been gone for 12 days on my vacation and felt great, and felt like my life was finally coming together again and I was starting to feel the same overwhelming feelings coming back to me.  And that was it.  To put it bluntly I knew I was going to leave there, I knew over a year and a half [i.e., from the time she started] I was going to leave there.  It was just a question of when it was actually gonna happen.

 

When asked why she had not quit months earlier, that is, when the reason caused by the employer allegedly occurred, relator said, “I was interviewing during that time, I had several interviews. . . .  I thought maybe I was going to get [a] job and I did not get it.”

            Relator had a poor relationship with her supervisor and did not like the level of stress inherent in her job, but neither of these is a good reason caused by the employer to quit a job.  See Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass’n, 409 N.W.2d 23, 26 (Minn. App. 1987) (dissatisfaction with a supervisor is not good cause to quit); Portz v. Pipestone Skelgas, 397 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1986) (situation where an employee experiences irreconcilable differences at work or is frustrated or dissatisfied with working conditions is not good cause attributable to the employer for quitting).  Both relator’s testimony and the documents she submitted as evidence indicate that she quit because she felt she had irreconcilable differences with her supervisor and because she was frustrated and dissatisfied with her job.  There is no basis to overturn the commissioner’s representative’s decision.

            Affirmed.



[1] Although relator refers to this incident as an assault in her appellate brief, the record does not reflect any previous use of that term.