This opinion will be unpublished and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

A05-2131

 

Patricia M. Mason,

Relator,

 

vs.

 

Shoemaker & Ziegler Law Firm, L.L.C.,

Respondent,

 

Department of Employment and Economic Security,

Respondent.

 

Filed June 6, 2006

Affirmed

Peterson, Judge

 

Department of Employment and Economic Security

File No. 514605

 

Patricia M. Mason, 25876 Brolin Beach Road, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501 (pro se relator)

 

Shoemaker & Ziegler Law Firm, L.L.C., P.O.Box 1026, Detroit Lakes, MN 56502 (respondent)

 

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

 

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

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

PETERSON, Judge

            Relator Patricia Mason challenges the decision of a senior unemployment review judge (SURJ) that she is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she quit her employment.  Because the evidence reasonably tends to sustain the finding that relator quit her employment, we affirm.

FACTS

            Relator worked as a legal secretary for respondent Shoemaker and Ziegler, L.L.C., a law firm, until April 2003, when she decided to leave her job because she disliked the swearing and the agitated, angry behavior of one of the partners.

When relator applied for unemployment benefits, she stated that she had been laid off due to a lack of work.  A department adjudicator noted that “[i]nformation subsequently received from the employer indicates that the applicant quit without notice and was not laid off.”  The department adjudicator found that relator quit for unknown disqualifying reasons and concluded that relator was disqualified from receiving benefits.  Relator appealed.  An unemployment law judge (ULJ) conducted a telephone hearing during which relator, the two attorneys who were partners in the law firm, and the law firm’s office manager testified. The ULJ issued a decision stating that the issue was: “Whether the applicant quit employment because of a good reason caused by the employer.” The ULJ found that relator quit “because she was dissatisfied with [one attorney’s] swearing and outbursts of anger in the office” and concluded that relator was disqualified from receiving benefits because she quit her employment and no exception applied.  Relator again appealed, and an SURJ found that relator quit “due to her dissatisfaction with [one attorney’s] swearing and angry behavior at the office” and concluded that relator was disqualified from receiving benefits because she quit her employment and no exception applied.  Relator challenges that decision.

D E C I S I O N

            Generally, an employee who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.[1]  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (2002)  “Whether an employee has been discharged or voluntarily quit is a question of fact.”  Midland Elec. Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 812 (Minn. App. 1985).  This court will not disturb the SURJ’s findings of fact “as long as there is evidence that reasonably tends to sustain those findings.”  Schmidgall v. Filmtec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002). 

            During the telephone hearing, the ULJ asked relator, “Did you quit or were you discharged[?]”  Relator answered, “I left the employment.”   The ULJ then said, “You quit,” and relator said, “Yes.”  Relator also testified that she did not tell her employer that she was quitting.  Thus, evidence sustains the finding that relator quit her employment.

            On appeal, relator argues that, a few days after she left her employment, the employer “gave his permission for [her] to be laid off.”  But whether an employee quit or was discharged is determined as of the time the employment ends.  See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 2 (a) (2002) (“A quit from employment occurs when the decision to end the employment was, at the time the employment ended, the employee’s.”); Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 5 (a) (2002) (“A discharge from employment 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.”).  At the time relator’s employment ended, the decision to end the employment was hers.  Events that occurred after the employment ended are not relevant to whether relator quit or was discharged.[2] 

Furthermore, an employer has no authority to state that an employee who quit was laid off. 

Unemployment benefits are paid from state funds and shall not be considered . . . as paid by an employer. . . . An applicant’s entitlement to unemployment benefits shall be determined based upon that information available . . . and any agreement between an applicant and an employer shall not be binding on the commissioner in determining an applicant’s entitlement.

 

Minn. Stat. § 268.069, subd. 2 (2002).  Therefore, even if relator’s employer had said relator could file for unemployment benefits as having been “laid off,” that statement does not demonstrate that relator is entitled to receive benefits.

            Evidence supports the finding that relator quit her employment.  She is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

Affirmed.



[1] There are several statutory exceptions from this general rule, but relator does not claim that any of the exceptions applies.  See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1. 

[2] The ULJ excluded as irrelevant testimony from relator’s witness regarding a statement allegedly made by one of the attorneys a few days after relator left her employment that relator would be laid off.  In her brief, relator objects that the exclusion was unfair because the attorney was allowed to testify that he had not signed a form saying relator was laid off.  But that testimony was a refutation of one of relator’s exhibits, a letter asserting that, after relator’s employment ended, the attorney had “agree[d] that [relator] would be laid off” and had “signed a form . . . that stated that he had laid her off.”  The decision to admit or exclude evidence is within a fact-finder’s discretion.  See, e.g., Johnson v. Washington County, 518 N.W.2d 594, 601 (Minn. 1994) (holding that evidentiary rulings based on relevance, among other things, are discretionary).