This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






Patricia J. Currie,





Help Systems,



Department of Employment and Economic Development,



Filed April 25, 2006


Kalitowski, Judge


Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 14547 04


Jordan S. Kushner, Law Office of Jordan S. Kushner, 431 South Seventh Street, Suite 2446, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for relator)


Todd Wind, Wade S. Davis, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., 200 South Sixth Street, Suite 4000, Minneapolis, MN 55402-1425 (for respondent Help Systems)


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


            Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Relator Patricia J. Currie challenges the decision of the senior unemployment review judge disqualifying her from receiving unemployment benefits.  We affirm.


            In reviewing a decision on unemployment benefits, we apply a narrow standard of review.  Markel v. City of Circle Pines, 479 N.W.2d 382, 383 (Minn. 1992).  This court both views the evidence in the light most favorable to the decision and defers to the senior unemployment review judge’s (SURJ’s) credibility determinations.  Whitehead v. Moonlight Nursing Care, Inc., 529 N.W.2d 350, 352 (Minn. App. 1995).  This court will not disturb the SURJ’s findings of fact if the record reasonably supports them.  Ress v. Abbott Nw. Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).  But whether an employee had good cause to quit is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo.  Peppi v. Phyllis Wheatley Cmty. Ctr., 614 N.W.2d 750, 752 (Minn. App. 2000).  The applicant has the burden of proof.  Haskins v. Choice Auto Rental, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 507, 510 (Minn. App. 1997).

An applicant who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless, among other exceptions, the employee quits for a good reason caused by the employer.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2004).  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.”[1]  Id., subd. 3.  The test for reasonableness in this context is objective and is applied to the average person, 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, it is undisputed that relator voluntarily quit her job working for respondent Help Systems (HS).  But relator contends that she had good cause to quit her employment because her annual salary was reduced by 35%, from $81,000 to $52,000.  The record indicates that in April 2004, HS demoted relator and cut her salary pursuant to a written warning informing her that her performance was not meeting the expectations of her position.  Two weeks later, relator announced her retirement from HS due to “harassment and discrimination.”  When HS’s human resources manager told relator that she would investigate relator’s claims, relator rescinded her retirement notice.  After investigating the claims, the manager found no evidence of discrimination and concluded that the evidence confirmed the performance problems described in relator’s written warning.

After receiving the manager’s report refuting her claims, relator took a leave of absence from work under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  After the full 12 weeks allowed under the FMLA had passed, relator again resigned from her position at HS due to “discrimination and harassment.”  The record indicates that respondent never articulated her reduced salary as her reason for quitting her employment with HS. 

The SURJ held that relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she quit her employment without good reason caused by her employer.  In support of its holding, the SURJ found that relator did not quit due to her salary reduction because she rescinded her original retirement notice and continued her association with HS during her 12-week FMLA leave despite the salary reduction.  Viewed in a light most favorable to the decision, we conclude that the record reasonably supports this finding. 

Moreover, even if we interpret relator’s reasons for quitting as being based on her salary reduction, she did not establish that she quit with good reason caused by her employer.  The record indicates that relator’s salary reduction was performance-based.  And when she contested the rationale behind the reduction, HS thoroughly reviewed her claims and affirmed its decision.  Additionally, the record indicates that relator’s supervisor testified that he told relator that her salary would be increased when she improved her performance to acceptable levels.  And the SURJ deemed that testimony credible.  Thus, we conclude that based on a totality of the circumstances, relator failed to establish that an average, reasonable worker would feel compelled to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment under those circumstances.

Relator also suggests that she quit her employment because of serious illness.  For an employee to establish that she is not disqualified because a serious illness made it medically necessary for her to quit, she must show that she “inform[ed] the employer of the serious illness or injury and request[ed] accommodation and no reasonable accommodation [was] made available.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(7).  Because relator did not request accommodations from HS and because she did not receive a medical statement recommending that she leave her job until over two weeks after she had already quit, we conclude that the serious illness exception does not apply. 


[1]The 2004 version of the statute “is effective August 1, 2004, and applies to all determinations and decisions issued by the department on or after that date.”  2004 Minn. Laws ch. 183, § 63, at 300.  We therefore apply the 2004 version here because the Department of Employment and Economic Development issued its decision disqualifying relator from employment benefits on September 10, 2004.