This opinion will be unpublished and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
Jeanne M. Kuenzli,
American Red Cross North Central,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 12905 03
Lee B. Nelson, Linda Alison Holmes, Dept. of Employment and Economic Development, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development)
American Red Cross North Central, 100 South Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55107 (respondent)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Willis, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge
Relator challenges the decision of the commissioner’s representative that she was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she did not quit her employment for good reason caused by her employer. Because the record supports the findings and the legal conclusion that relator is disqualified from receiving benefits, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
To receive unemployment benefits, relator Jeanne Kuenzli must show that she quit her employment with respondent American Red Cross (Red Cross) for “good reason caused by” her employer. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2002). The reason must be one for which the employer is responsible and that is “significant and would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.” Id., subd. 3(a).
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development adjudicator initially determined that relator did not satisfy the statutory requirements to receive benefits; a department unemployment judge affirmed after a de novo hearing, and a representative of the Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development issued the final agency decision that relator is disqualified. Respondent Red Cross did not appear at the hearing and did not submit an appellate brief.
On review, deference is accorded the commissioner’s findings, but this court determines as a matter of law whether the facts support disqualification of benefits. Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass’n, 409 N.W.2d 23, 26 (Minn. App. 1987). There is a substantial body of caselaw on the issue of whether an employee had good reason to quit caused by her employer. While harassment, disparate treatment, and stressful working relationships with supervisors may constitute good cause attributable to an employer, Tru-Stone Corp. v. Gutzkow, 400 N.W.2d 836, 838 (Minn. App. 1987), personality conflicts with supervisors do not constitute good cause. Bongiovanni v. Vanlor Invs., 370 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. App. 1985).
Relator worked at Red Cross from early 1999 to May 30, 2003 as a donor-services representative. She alleges that she quit due to ongoing harassment by a new direct supervisor beginning about July 2002. She claims the harassment continued to escalate until it drove her to quit her employment.
The record supports the conclusion that relator had a personality conflict with her new supervisor beginning several months after their employment relationship began and during a period when relator had a number of family and personal health issues. The facts, however, do not rise to the level of “significant” and “compelling” the employee to quit rather than remaining employed. The alleged conduct by the supervisor was not sufficiently harsh, abusive, or oppressive that the employee should not be expected to tolerate it.
Reviewing the 12 work-related comments in the ten-month period preceding relator’s notice to quit, we conclude they were typical work-related comments between supervisor and employer. For the most part, they relate to the relator’s hours worked, her productivity, and her attitude about work—all subjects within the scope of an employment relationship. The three personal remarks relator now contests appear harmless especially because relator herself informed the supervisor of the personal facts that were the subject of the remarks. Contrary to relator’s argument that the comments constitute “escalating harassment,” the dates of the alleged comments and personal remarks indicate they never exceeded two per month and they do not reflect an increase in harshness. There is no indication that the supervisor or the employer took adverse employment action against relator for any of the suggested shortcomings in relator’s performance; she was not put on a performance plan, she was not denied vacation or sick time, she was not docked pay, and she was not required to work more than her usual hours. The employer took no arbitrary or unreasonable actions in response to relator’s complaints. In short, the record reflects that relator quit out of frustration and dissatisfaction with her working conditions, which is not harassment.