This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Brown Printing Co.,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Department of Employment and Economic Dev.
Agency File No. 17339 04
Linda Alison Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent DEED)
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 challenges the determination of the senior unemployment judge (SURJ) that she is not entitled to unemployment benefits because she quit her job without a good reason caused by her employer. Because the findings of fact have support in the record and the conclusion is not contrary to the statutory mandate, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
An employee who voluntarily quits is entitled to
unemployment benefits if the decision to quit is the result of a good reason
caused by the employer. Minn. Stat. § 268.095
subd. 1(1) (2004). Whether an employee
quit for good reason caused by the employer is a question of law that this
court reviews de novo. Rootes v. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc., 669
N.W.2d 416, 418 (Minn.App. 2003).
However, in unemployment compensation proceedings, this court will
affirm if the findings of fact are not without support in the record and the
conclusion based on those facts is not contrary to the statutory mandate. Isse v.
Alamo Rent-A-Car, 590 N.W. 2d 137, 139, (
What constitutes a good reason caused by the employer is defined exclusively by statute. Minn.Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(g) (2004). A good reason to quit is a reason directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible; it is adverse to the worker; and it is significant enough that it would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remain in the employment. Minn.Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a)(2004).
Relator Twyla Oachs worked for respondent Brown Printing Company from June 2002 until she quit in September 2004. A department adjudicator determined that relator was not entitled to unemployment benefits because she quit her employment without a good reason caused by her employer, and relator appealed. Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 1(2004) an unemployment law judge (ULJ), after conducting an evidentiary hearing, affirmed that determination. Relator appealed again, and a senior unemployment law judge (SURJ), pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 2a (2004), declined to conduct de novo review and issued an order adopting the ULJ’s findings of fact and decision.
At the hearing, relator testified that she ultimately quit because of stress, not because of any particular incident. She cited three reasons for the stress, and the ULJ made findings on each of them. First, the ULJ found that “On or about September 6 2004, [relator] had a disagreement with a manager who approached her about taking a break. [Relator] was upset because she had missed her prior two breaks and felt she was authorized to be on break.” Relator testified that a supervisor “falsely accused” her of taking unauthorized breaks, but relator also testified that she was allowed to explain her position and, although relator remained angry, there was no aftermath and she did not pursue the matter.
Second, the ULJ found that “[Relator’s] supervisor looked into [relator’s] complaints, and explained to her that some of the duties [relator] thought her co-workers were supposed to perform were strictly her duties as a lift truck driver.” Relator testified that she got into an argument with another worker who was not busy but would not help her. Relator said she reported this and a supervisor told relator that the work she wanted help with was relator’s job and not the other worker’s job. The assistant production manager, when asked if other employees were supposed to help relator, testified “No, they’re not, she has her own job description as a skid mover.” Thus, the finding “is not without support in the evidence” and an employee’s erroneous belief that co-workers should help with the employee’s job is not a good reason to quit caused by the employer
Third, the ULJ found that “[Relator] quit her employment . . . because she . . . did not feel her co-workers did their jobs.” Relator testified that she quit because other employees did not do their jobs and management did not make them do their jobs. She reported this to human resources and claimed there was no effective response. But respondent’s assistant manager testified that, when “there’s somebody on their machine not doing their job . . . [w]e’d either have them removed or work with them and train them more so they would do their job better” and that the situation had improved. Again, relator’s perception that management was not making other employees work hard enough was not a good reason to quit caused by her employer.
Relator’s situation is readily distinguishable from
situations in which an employee’s stress has been held to be a good reason for
quitting caused by the employer for unemployment benefit purposes. See,
e.g., Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish and Chips, 272 N.W. 2d 262 (
Relator was dissatisfied with her job conditions, but that dissatisfaction would not have “compel[led] an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed.” See Minn.Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a). The findings are not without support in the record, and the conclusion that relator quit without a good reason caused by her employer is not contrary to the statutory mandate.