This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Caseys Retail Company (Corp),
Department of Employment & Economic Development,
Filed June 6, 2006
Caseys Retail Company, Post Office Box 283, St. Louis, MO 63166-0283 (respondent)
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, E200 First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent Department of Employment & Economic Security)
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator challenges the decision of the unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that she is disqualified from benefits. Because we conclude from the undisputed circumstances surrounding the termination of relator’s employment that the termination of her employment was not voluntary, we reverse.
“[w]hether an employee has been discharged or voluntarily quit is a question of
fact.” Midland Elec., Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 812 (
Both “quit” and
“discharge” are defined by statute. A quit “occurs when the decision to end the
employment was, at the time the employment ended, the employee’s.”
Mittag was told in July 2004 that she would be fired if any more complaints were received about her treatment of employees or customers. More complaints were received in February and early March 2005. On March 30, 2005, Mittag’s district manager and her area supervisor went to Mittag’s store to fire her because of these complaints.
They testified about the meeting. The district manager testified that “we just told [Mittag] that I’ve received three more complaints, she said, fine, I’ll get my keys, and that was it.” The area supervisor testified, “And we went into the back room and [Mittag] said what’s up, and [the district manager] says, well, it’s not good. . . . we got some more letters. And [Mittag] says, okay, I’ll get my key, and she got her key and left.” When asked if Mittag had quit or been fired, the area supervisor testified, “Well, I guess I would say that [Mittag] was fired because when we had suspended her, we had told her that if we received any more letters, that she would be terminated.”
Like the area supervisor, Mittag perceived herself as having been fired when she was told that more complaints had been received. She testified:
[W]hen those two called me in the back room, I knew what was going to happen. . . . And when [the area supervisor,] then [the district manager] goes, well, . . . we’ve gotten some complaints[,] I knew right there what they were doing. I knew they were going to fire me, and I just said I’ll go get you my keys. . . . And when I walked to get my keys and stuff, I guess I would think that that was their opportunity to say . . . we’ll show you these things, you know, we’re not here to fire you, we just want to talk. But nobody said that because they were there to fire me. And that’s why when I went and said I’ll give you my keys, they didn’t argue about it because that’s what they were there for.
We conclude that turning in her keys was Mittag’s response to having been fired; it was not a gesture signifying that she voluntarily quit.
As we noted above,
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.”