This opinion will be unpublished and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
Thomas Stephen Emmott,
Northwest Suburban Integration School District #6078,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed July 27, 2004
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 12322 03
Thomas S. Emmott, P.O. Box 80006, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (pro se relator)
Northwest Suburban Integration School District #6078, 11275 – 96th Avenue North, Maple Grove, MN 55369 (pro se respondent employer)
Lee B. Nelson, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 390 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On certiorari appeal from a decision by the commissioner’s representative that relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, relator contends that he is entitled to unemployment benefits because he was forced to work in a hostile, negative environment and therefore he quit for good reason. We affirm.
On December 16, 2002, relator Thomas Emmott began working for the Northwest Suburban Integration School District as a theatre specialist in the Global Arts Village. During the course of his employment with the Global Arts Village, relator became dissatisfied with the organization because he felt it was disorganized. Relator was disenchanted with Lue Her, the organization’s general manager. Relator constantly complained to his direct supervisors about Her, who relator felt was controlling, distrustful, and volatile.
Adding to relator’s dissatisfaction with Her were comments made by Her at an all staff meeting held on January 27, 2003. The meeting was held to brainstorm about ideas for programs. Because nobody was volunteering ideas, Her stated, “Come on people, you’re all a bunch of talented, intelligent people, you know. What do I have to do; do I have to do this whole thing myself? Let me tell you, there’s plenty of job opportunities out there.” Relator took offense to these comments and felt threatened and alienated by them.
In mid-April 2003, relator and Her were involved in a heated telephone conversation concerning a decision made by relator that Her felt relator did not have the authority to make. Her hung up on relator and later referred to relator as a “son-of-a-bitch” in front of four supervisors. One of relator’s direct supervisors told relator about the comment. Her later met with relator and apologized for his actions, but relator did not believe Her’s apology was sincere.
Along with relator’s dysfunctional relationship with Her, relator had other problems relating to his employment. On March 26, 2003, relator was given a verbal warning because he had released confidential information pertaining to some of the students. In addition, relator had performance issues that resulted in his being put on probation for 45 days. In early May, relator was given an oral warning after bringing inappropriate material to work. Relator was further directed to refrain from driving past coworkers’ homes and contacting coworkers outside of work unless invited to do so by the coworker. Finally, relator was reprimanded in May for e-mailing a joke to a coworker that the coworker found to be offensive.
On April 17, 2003, relator went to the emergency room for treatment for stress and anxiety. Relator attributed the visit to stress from his relationship with Her and a lack of insight and vision on the part of others in supervisory positions. Relator admitted that the sexual-harassment allegations against him by a female coworker further contributed to his stress and anxiety.
On May 30, 2003, relator attended a meeting during which he interpreted Her’s comments as a threat to his job security. After the meeting, relator called one of his direct supervisors and resigned. Relator subsequently applied for unemployment benefits with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The Department determined that he quit without a good reason caused by his employer and was therefore disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Relator appealed and an unemployment law judge affirmed the decision. Relator appealed again, and on October 28, 2003, a representative of the commissioner issued the final agency decision, holding that relator quit because of dissatisfaction with the general manager and the work environment, and that an average reasonable worker would not have quit the employment on the facts of record. This certiorari appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
Appellate courts review the findings of the commissioner’s representative rather than those of the unemployment law judge. Tuff v. Knitcraft, 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). In doing so, this court views the factual findings in the light most favorable to the decision to determine whether the evidence reasonably sustains them. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989). Whether an employee has a good reason to quit is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo. Ryks v. Nieuwsma Livestock Equip., 410 N.W.2d 380, 382 (Minn. App. 1987).
An employee who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the employee quits for a good reason caused by the employer. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2002). A good reason to quit is “directly related to the employment . . . for which the employer is responsible” and so significant that it 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). The test for reasonableness is as applied to the average person and not to the supersensitive. Ferguson v. Dep’t of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976).
Here, relator argues that he is entitled to unemployment benefits because he is a reasonable person, and the circumstances of his employment were such that a reasonable person would have quit. In support of his argument, relator contends that Her created a hostile work environment by “spying” on employees, accessing their computers, and making offensive and threatening remarks. Relator also claims that his emergency room visit is additional evidence that his relationship with Her was so stressful that a reasonable person would have quit.
We disagree. The record reflects that relator’s working relationship with Her (or lack thereof) was the primary reason he quit his job. But a good reason to quit is not established when an employee has irreconcilable differences with his employer or when an employee is simply frustrated or dissatisfied with his working conditions. Ryks, 410 N.W.2d at 382; Portz v. Pipstone Skelgas, 397 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1986). Relator concedes that in addition to his relationship with Her, the sexual-harassment allegations also contributed to his stress. Relator was given oral warnings for (1) bringing offensive materials to work; (2) driving past coworkers’ homes; and (3) contacting coworkers outside of work without being previously invited to do so. Relator was also reprimanded for sending an inappropriate joke via e-mail to a coworker, and was placed on probation for 45 days because of performance issues. Therefore, because relator’s emergency room visit cannot be attributed solely to his working relationship with Her, the relationship does not constitute a good reason to quit. See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a)(1) (stating that good reason to quit is directly related to the employment for which the employer is responsible).
Relator correctly points out that Her’s employment with the organization was terminated shortly after relator quit, and that 12 people quit during Her’s six-month tenure as the general manager. Her was not “employer of the month.” Nevertheless, the fact that some employees were unhappy with a supervisor does not prove that relator’s resignation was reasonable. See Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass’n, 409 N.W.2d 23, 27 (Minn. App. 1987). Although the organization’s termination of Her’s employment gives credence to relator’s argument that Her was a lousy boss, it does not change the law that a difficult boss, without more, is not a good enough reason to quit. See Ryks, 410 N.W.2d at 382. We conclude the commissioner’s representative did not err by denying relator unemployment benefits.
Finally, pursuant to motion, pages four, five, and part of page three of relator’s brief are stricken because they contain materials that are not part of the record. See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582-83 (Minn. 1988) (stating that an appellate court may not consider matters on appeal that are outside of the record and not produced and received into evidence in the proceedings below).