This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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







Marie E. Stewart,





American Tool Grinding,



Department of Employment and Economic Development,




Filed June  20, 2006


Minge, Judge


Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 10969 05



Marie E. Stewart, 11770 Vermillion Street Northeast, Unit D, Blaine, MN 55449 (pro se relator)


American Tool Grinding, 11485 Xeon Street Northwest, Coon Rapids, MN 55448-3150 (respondent)


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


            Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Minge, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

MINGE, Judge

Relator challenges the decision by the unemployment law judge that relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she quit without good reason caused by her employer.  Because relator quit without providing the employer an opportunity to address her concern, she quit without good reason caused by her employer, and we affirm.


Relator Marie Stewart was employed for about seven months as the office manager for respondent American Tool Grinding and Manufacturing, a business owned and operated by her husband’s family.  On Sunday, June 19, 2005, relator’s husband unexpectedly told her that he wanted a divorce.  That same day, relator told her husband that she was quitting her job and returned her keys and cellular telephone to the office.   She did not come to work on Monday, June 20, and did not speak about her decision to quit with anyone at work or in the family. 

The family-run business had about 15 employees.  Relator’s father-in-law was the president, her mother-in-law was the vice-president, and her husband was the plant manager.  Relator testified that she shared the front office with her husband.  She also testified that her immediate supervisor was “[p]robably” her mother-in-law, who provided her with her day-to-day duties, but her husband also gave her instructions.   

Relator testified that prior to June 19 everything at the office was “fine” and she had never been written up or disciplined.  Her mother-in-law testified that the working relationship had been “wonderful.”  She also testified that work would have been available to relator if she had come in as scheduled on June 20.  As far as relator’s mother-in-law was concerned, there would have been no problem with relator continuing to work: “[I]t would’ve been difficult, but it would not have been impossible.” 

Relator’s application for unemployment benefits was denied based on a finding that she quit without good reason caused by her employer.  On appeal, the unemployment law judge (ULJ) heard the matter, reached the same conclusion, and, on reconsideration, made only a minor factual correction.  Relator seeks certiorari review.


            On certiorari review, this court will review the ULJ’s decision to determine if it is supported by substantial evidence in view of the entire record and if it is a correct application of the law.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (Supp. 2005); 2005 Minn. Laws ch. 112, art. 2, § 34, at 709-10, 714 (setting out standard of review for ULJ decisions issued on or after June 25, 2005).  Whether an employee has good cause 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 who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the employee “quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the employer.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (Supp. 2005).  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.  Id., subd. 3(a).  If the employee is subject to adverse working conditions, she must notify the employer to give the employer the opportunity to correct the conditions before they will be considered good reason caused by the employer for quitting.  Id., subd. 3(c).  Even if a personality conflict is directly related to relator’s work, it does not constitute good reason to quit.  Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass’n, 409 N.W.2d 23, 26 (Minn. App. 1987). 

            The record reflects a personal dispute between the relator and her then husband, who was a co-worker.  Although we recognize that the awkwardness, if not bitterness, of a marital break-up is apt to spill over into the workplace and render conditions intolerable for the outsider–spouse employee, we decline to assume the situation is intolerable absent some evidence.  Under the statute, the employee must notify the employer of an adverse condition and give the employer an opportunity to correct adverse conditions before quitting.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(c).  This even applies to relator as the quitting spouse.

            Relator’s arguments in her request for reconsideration and again in this appeal contain facts that were not provided at the ULJ hearing.  After stating at the hearing that she had not talked with her in-laws about the situation, she later added in a written submission to the ULJ that she had called her mother-in-law, apparently on Monday, June 20, but was not offered any accommodation in the workplace.  The mother-in-law stated that although it would be difficult for relator to continue her employment, it was not impossible and that her son had indicated that he would change his hours.  Relator does not explain why she failed to provide this evidence at the hearing.  See Minn. Stat             § 268.105, subd. 2(c) (Supp. 2005) (requiring good cause for not previously submitting evidence).  Even if she had provided this information, it does not satisfy the statutory requirement that the employee give the employer an opportunity to correct an adverse condition before quitting.

            Relator also argues that everyone agreed her continued work in the family business was unrealistic and impossible and that requesting an accommodation from her in-laws would have been futile.  She points out that the business hours and physical facilities would have forced her to work with her estranged husband.  However, in light of the mutual belief that the work relationship before June 19 was good and the mother-in-law’s testimony that continued work and an accommodation were possible, we cannot conclude on this record that it was unrealistic and impossible for her to continue to work for respondent-employer or that a request for accommodation would have been futile. 

            Although relator did not complain to the Department of Employment and Economic Development or the ULJ, she complains in this appeal that the hearing before the ULJ was improper.  She argues that the ULJ interrupted her and made it difficult for her to tell her side of the story.  We have reviewed the entire record with emphasis on the transcript and determine that the hearing was fairly conducted.  Aside from the ULJ’s comments after relator’s own interruptions and accusations during the hearing, relator was not treated differently from other witnesses, the ULJ stopped both parties at times to maintain order, and proceed efficiently to adduce relevant facts. 

            Absent any evidence that relator gave the employer an opportunity to address her situation before she quit, or evidence of an impossible work situation, we conclude that the

unemployment law judge’s determination that relator quit without good reason caused by the employer was not error.