This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






Kaaren E. Keohane,





Mankato Area Chamber of Commerce,



Department of Employment and Economic Development,




Filed March 28, 2006


Worke, Judge


Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 17478 04


Kaaren E. Keohane, 116 East Forest Street, Belle Plaine, MN  56001 (pro se relator)


Amy Walsh Kern, Leonard, Street & Deinard, 130 South Fifth Street, Suite 2300, Minneapolis, MN  55402 (for respondent Mankata Area Chamber of Commerce)


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


            Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Worke, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

WORKE, Judge

          Relator challenges the senior unemployment review judge’s (SURJ) decision that she was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she voluntarily quit her employment arguing that (1) the findings are not supported by the evidence; and (2) she quit for good reason caused by her employer.  We affirm.


            Relator Kaaren E. Keohane was employed by the Mankato Area Chamber of Commerce (MACC) from October 1, 2001, through October 20, 2004.  Initially, relator’s title was the director of membership and events, but her position was subsequently split into two positions and relator became the director of events.  The director of events was responsible for managing the Vikings Training Camp (camp).  Relator worked between 40 and 50 hours per week, but as a salaried employee worked additional hours as needed, especially during the camp.                   

            In 2004, the camp’s activities increased and the MACC created a subsidiary, the Greater Mankato Training Camp, LLC (GMTC), to run the camp.  A consultant was hired as the camp director whose primary responsibility was to sell sponsorships for the camp.  Following termination of the consultant’s contract, the MACC began negotiating with an event management consulting company to take on many of the consultant’s duties.  Relator’s responsibilities at the camp also increased in 2004.  Relator received a $4,000 annual raise for assuming these responsibilities, increasing her annual salary to $39,000, plus $5,250 in bonuses.  At the conclusion of the camp, relator received an additional $1,000 and four paid vacation days.                 

            During her annual review, relator told the MACC’s president and CEO, David Schooff, that she deserved additional compensation because she believed it was unfair that the camp’s consultant was paid $38,000 and she had only been paid an additional $5,000 for her work at the camp.  Schooff explained that the MACC, a nonprofit organization, could not meet her demands.  Relator and Schooff negotiated a new contract, which relator signed.  The contract provided that on October 1, 2004, relator’s annual salary would increase to $40,000, and effective May 1, 2005, relator’s salary would increase to $41,000, plus $2,500 in bonuses.  But on October 20, 2004, relator proposed an increase that significantly exceeded her contract salary.  Schooff could not agree and relator resigned.    

            Relator established an unemployment-benefits account effective October 24, 2004.   The MACC reported that relator had voluntarily quit her employment, and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) determined that relator was not qualified for unemployment benefits.  Relator appealed, and a telephone hearing was conducted before an unemployment law judge (ULJ).  The ULJ reversed DEED’s determination, finding that relator quit her employment for a good reason caused by the MACC.  The MACC appealed and the SURJ reversed the ULJ deciding that relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she voluntarily quit her employment and no exception to disqualification applied.  This certiorari appeal follows. 


            On certiorari appeal, this court reviews the decision by the SURJ.  Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995).  Such review is very narrow, Whitehead v. Moonlight Nursing Care, Inc., 529 N.W.2d 350, 352 (Minn. App. 1995), and we accord the decisions of the SURJ “particular deference.” Tuff, 526 N.W.2d at 51.

Factual Findings

We first consider the SURJ’s factual findings.  This court views the factual findings “in the light most favorable to the decision, and if there is evidence reasonably tending to sustain them, they will not be disturbed.”  White v. Metro. Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983).  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). 

Relator challenges the SURJ’s finding that the GMTC hired a consultant to perform certain services, which would have otherwise fallen within the purview of relator’s job description.  The record supports this finding.  First, relator’s job description included managing the camp.  Relator testified that she “[understood] that [her] . . . job responsibilities state a training camp” and that “[she] worked on training camps for a number of years.”  And Schooff testified that it is “specific that the director of events does have to manage [the camp].”  Second, the record shows that the camp changed in 2004.  Schooff testified that “changes have been different over the past year in the way Camp has been operated[,]” and that the GMTC was organized to run camp operations.  Finally, the record shows that a consultant was hired to manage the camp.  Schooff testified that a consultant was hired “who acted as the [camp] director over the past year[.]”  There is evidence in the record to sustain the SURJ’s finding that the GMTC hired a consultant to perform certain services which would have otherwise fallen within the purview of relator’s job description.  This finding should not be disturbed. 

Decision to Quit Employment

It is undisputed that relator quit her employment.  An applicant who voluntarily quits her employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the applicant demonstrates that an exception applies, such as a good reason caused by the employer.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (2004).  Whether relator quit for a good reason caused by her employer presents a question of law, which this court reviews de novo.  Ress v. Abbott Nw. Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).  The SURJ’s decision on the issue of good cause to quit “is not binding on this court if it does not have reasonable support in the findings.”  Dachel v. Ortho Met, Inc., 528 N.W.2d 268, 269 (Minn. App. 1995).  The applicant has the burden of proof.  Haskins v. Choice Auto Rental, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 507, 510 (Minn. App. 1997).

A good reason caused by the employer is a reason “(1) that is directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible; (2) that is adverse to the worker; and (3) that would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a) (2004).  “What constitutes good reason caused by the employer is defined exclusively by statute.”  Rootes v. Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc., 669 N.W.2d 416, 418 (Minn. App. 2003); Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(g).  “[T]here must be some compulsion produced by extraneous and necessitous circumstances.”  Edward v. Sentinel Mgmt. Co., 611 N.W.2d 366, 368 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. Aug. 15, 2000).  For an employee to have a good reason to quit caused by the employer, there must be an adverse change in working conditions under the employer’s control.  See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a).   

Relator argues that she had good reason to quit her employment because the MACC expected her to work two positions and be compensated for one.  Relator’s argument fails.  First, it is not unreasonable for a nonprofit organization to be limited by its revenues to provide compensation to its employees.  Schooff testified that the MACC “[has] to work within the means that [they] are presented from [their] organization and that [the MACC] cannot pay people just because they feel that they should be paid more money.”  Relator’s proposed salary significantly exceeded the salary she negotiated with Schooff.  Relator was not compelled to quit her employment because she did not receive the salary that she demanded, especially when she should have understood the financial constraints of a nonprofit organization.  Second, relator’s salary did increase; she went from earning $35,000 to $39,000 at the beginning of the camp to $40,000 plus four vacation days at the end of camp.  It was not unreasonable for the MACC to refuse relator’s demands when she received additional compensation for performing duties that were already within the scope of her employment.  This is especially true because relator conceded that managing the camp was included in her duties, her responsibilities had decreased when her job duties were split in half, and relator conceded that she has always worked more hours during the camp.  Finally, relator assumes that she would have been responsible for future management of the camp.  Relator testified: “when you look at the prior history and my role with the [camp] to what it was going to be for the next coming year in the future, it is a significant difference.” (Emphasis added.)  Relator claims that she should be paid what the consultant was paid, but relator concedes: “I was never really offered the job” and “I felt that I was going to be working 60 to 70 hours a week from January through August to make this [camp] and fulfill all the needs that had to [be] met, and I thought I deserved additional compensation.”  Relator assumes that she was going to be doing the consultant’s job and serve as the director of events, but Schooff testified, “we already were in negotiations with an event management consulting company that [relator] knows about that’s taken on many of the duties that the prior consultant already did.  We started discussions with that company back in August [2004].”   

Relator was not asked to do two jobs and she was fairly compensated for the work she did.  The record supports the SURJ’s decision that relator is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she voluntarily quit her employment and no exception to disqualification applies.