This opinion will be unpublished and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
Kathleen A. Wolfe,
Healtheast St. John’s Hospital,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed July 13, 2004
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 12054 03
Kathleen A. Wolfe, 906 Hastings Avenue, Lot 725, St. Paul Park, MN 55107 (pro se relator)
St. John’s Lutheran Hospital Association, Human Resources Department, 1575 Beam Avenue, Maplewood, MN 55109-1126 (respondent)
Lee B. Nelson, Linda A. Holmes, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
By writ of certiorari, Kathleen Wolfe challenges the commissioner of employment and economic development’s order disqualifying her from receiving unemployment benefits. Because the record reasonably supports the determination of the commissioner’s representative that Wolfe quit without good reason in anticipation of possible disciplinary action, we affirm.
Kathleen Wolfe worked as a housekeeping aide for Healtheast St. John’s Hospital from November 1998 until July 1, 2003. On that day, Wolfe was summoned by her supervisor to discuss Wolfe’s job performance, excessive breaks, and pending disciplinary action. According to the supervisor, when asked if she wanted a union representative at the meeting, Wolfe responded, “No, I’m not talking to anybody.” Wolfe then left the room and went outside to smoke a cigarette. The supervisor sent the union representative to speak with Wolfe, but she refused any advice and indicated that she no longer wanted the job. After the supervisor’s boss tried to talk with Wolfe, Wolfe returned to her supervisor’s office and asked for a scissors to cut up her identification badge. Wolfe returned her uniforms, keys, and pass cards the following day.
Wolfe’s testimony diverged from her supervisor’s account. She acknowledged that she refused to meet with her supervisor but said that it was because she wanted to have a union representative present and because she had work to do. Wolfe said that another worker spoke with her and told her she was handling this in all the wrong way, but she did not know for sure whether he was a union representative. She also said that her hearing impairment prevented her from understanding the nature of the meeting and that she did not quit, but rather she was fired for refusing to meet with her supervisor.
Wolfe was initially denied unemployment benefits on a Department of Employment and Economic Development adjudicator’s determination that she had quit her job without good reason caused by her employer. Wolfe appealed to a department unemployment law judge, who affirmed the decision. Thereafter, a representative of the commissioner of employment and economic development issued the final agency decision, finding that Wolfe had quit her employment without good reason caused by the employer and was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Wolfe’s appeal is now before us on a writ of certiorari under Minn. Stat § 268.105, subd. 7(a) (2002).
Review of a decision of the commissioner of employment and economic development presents a mixed question of law and fact. Schmidgall v. Filmtec Corp., 644 N.W. 2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002). The issue of whether an employee was discharged or voluntarily quit presents a question of fact. Souder v. Ziegler, Inc., 424 N.W.2d 834, 835 (Minn. App. 1988). We review the commissioner’s fact findings “in the light most favorable to the decision” and determine whether the evidence “reasonably tends to sustain those findings.” Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W. 2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996). The ultimate determination of whether an employee is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits is a question of law, which we review de novo. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
A person who voluntarily quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the employee demonstrates that he or she quit for good reason attributable to the employer. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (2002). Wolfe did not present any evidence that she quit for good reason and does not argue good reason to quit on appeal. Rather, she contests the commissioner’s representative’s finding that she quit. An employee “quits” when the decision to end the employment “was, at the time the employment ended, the employee’s.” Id., subd. 2(a) (2002).
Wolfe was told that she was facing disciplinary action for her job performance. Her supervisor testified that Wolfe refused to meet and left the workplace after unsuccessfully requesting scissors to cut up her identification badge. Wolfe testified that she was told that refusal to meet with her supervisor would result in termination and that she left in response to what she felt was her firing. But a refusal to discuss or accept disciplinary action does not equate to a discharge. See Souder, 424 N.W.2d at 836 (concluding that employee who left workplace after refusing to sign disciplinary warning could not reasonably claim discharge).
Reviewing the testimony, and acknowledging the disparities, the commissioner’s representative found that Wolfe had decided to end her employment and had not shown good reason for doing so, and that the quit had occurred prior to any disciplinary action that could have resulted in termination. The record reasonably supports these findings. “When the parties have presented conflicting evidence on the record, this court must defer to the Commissioner’s ability to weigh the evidence.” Whitehead v. Moonlight Nursing Care, Inc., 529 N.W.2d 350, 352 (Minn. App. 1995). Viewed in a light most favorable to the decision, the evidence supports a finding that Wolfe quit her job and is therefore not entitled to unemployment benefits.