This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).







Theresa L. Hodges,





Heartland Employment Services, Inc.,



Department of Employment and Economic Development,




Filed September 20, 2005


Toussaint, Chief Judge


Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 17507 04



Theresa L. Hodges, 593 Charles Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55103 (pro se relator)


Heartland Employment Services, Inc., 1752 Terrace Drive, Roseville, MN 55113 (respondent)


Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent Department)



            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Randall, 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 Theresa L. Hodges challenges the decision of the senior unemployment review judge (SURJ) that she is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she voluntarily quit her employment without good cause attributable to her employer.  Because the record reasonably supports the decision, we affirm.


            Relator began working for respondent Heartland Employment Services, Inc. (Heartland) on November 5, 2001.  Heartland’s policy is to grant personal leaves of absence on a 30-day basis and renew them for additional 30-day periods upon request and when appropriate.  In early September 2004, relator requested an open-ended leave of absence to find a daycare provider for her infant child.  Heartland authorized relator to take a 30-day leave of absence from September 7 to October 7, 2004.  When the leave began, relator’s supervising administrator reminded her that an authorized personal leave does not constitute a guarantee of continuing employment and urged her to return to work as soon as possible. 

On September 18, 2004, relator received paperwork she was required to complete to extend the leave authorization past October 7, 2004.  Relator did not return the paperwork until October 12, 2004.  On October 18, 2004, relator called her supervising administrator to tell him that she was continuing her leave and that she did not know when she could return to work; the administrator informed relator that her leave was no longer authorized because she had failed to timely return the paperwork.  The administrator informed relator that she no longer had a job because her authorized leave of absence had ended and she refused to indicate when she would return from her unauthorized leave.  An unemployment law judge determined that relator is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she voluntarily quit her employment without good cause attributable to her employer.  A SURJ adopted the conclusion, and relator appealed by writ of certiorari.


This court reviews the record to determine whether it reasonably supports the decision of the SURJ.  Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995) (reviewing decision of commissioner’s representative).  The SURJ’s findings are a mixed question of law and fact.  Colburn v. Pine Portage Madden Bros., Inc., 346 N.W.2d 159, 161 (Minn.1984).  This court defers to the SURJ’s findings of fact if the record reasonably supports them.  Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn.1989).  This court also defers to the SURJ’s determinations regarding witness credibility and conflicting evidence.  Jenson v. Dep’t of Econ. Sec., 617 N.W.2d 627, 631 (Minn. App.2000), review denied (Minn. Dec. 20, 2000).  “The issue of whether an employee had good reason to quit is a question of law reviewed de novo.”  Peppi v. Phyllis Wheatley Cmty. Ctr., 614 N.W.2d 750, 752 (Minn. App. 2000).  An employee seeking unemployment compensation has the burden of proving good cause to quit. Haskins v. Choice Auto Rental, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 507, 510 (Minn. App. 1997).

An employee who quits is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless she does so quits for “a good reason caused by the employer.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2004).  A “quit . . . occurs when the decision to end the employment was, at the time the employment ended, the employee’s.”  Id., subd. 2 (2004).  “Good reason” to quit is a reason “directly related to the employment . . . for which the employer is responsible” and “is adverse to the worker,” and “would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.”  Id., subd. 3(a)(1), (2) (2004).

Here, relator completed an authorized leave of absence on October 7, 2004, at which point she failed to timely submit another leave-authorization request, return to work, indicate to her employer when she might return, or request a finite extension of her leave.  The SURJ concluded that by telling her employer that she would not be coming into work until an indefinite future date, if at all, relator effectively quit her employment for a reason not caused by her employer.  Relator maintains that she did not quit, but was discharged.  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.”  Id., subd. 5 (2004).  The SURJ reasonably found that relator’s employer informed her that work was available and that relator nonetheless chose not to return to work.  Because relator did not quit her employment for any nondisqualifying reasons, the SURJ correctly concluded that she was disqualified from receiving benefits.