This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Dick & Rick’s Auto Upholstery, Inc.,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 311 05
Trisi Lee, 2827 Fox Run Northwest, Prior Lake, MN 55372 (pro se relator)
R. Daniel Rasmus, Christensen, Laue & Rasmus, P.A., 5101 Vernon Avenue South, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55436 (for respondent Dick and Rick’s Auto Upholstery)
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, E200 First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*
Relator challenges the senior unemployment review judge’s decision that she quit her employment without a good reason attributable to the employer and is, therefore, disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. We affirm.
Relator Trisi Lee worked for Dick & Rick’s Auto Upholstery (Dick & Rick’s) in sales and administrative support from May 1998 until August 20, 2004. Beginning in October 2003, Lee earned an hourly wage of $17 plus a commission of five percent of gross monthly profits. Gross profits were calculated by subtracting the cost of materials and payroll from gross monthly sales, and gross sales were recorded only after payment was received and deposited by Dick & Rick’s. The method of calculating Lee’s commission was a continuing source of disagreement between Lee and Dick & Rick’s bookkeeper, Karen Dozois, because Lee wanted gross sales to include all sales that had been invoiced during the month, even if payment had not been received. Lee was given monthly profit-and-loss statements that included all the information necessary to determine her commissions, but she continued to request access to other financial records, including credit-card statements.
Lee had family health-insurance coverage through Dick & Rick’s. In December 2003, the health-insurance provider notified Dick & Rick’s that it would have a “premium holiday” for that month. The initial notice indicated that Dick & Rick’s was not required to reimburse employees for premiums paid, and it chose not to do so. Lee contested the failure to reimburse her for her share of the premium holiday. Dick & Rick’s eventually paid Lee a reimbursement of approximately $220 after she quit.
Dick & Rick’s provided a retirement plan in which Lee participated. The plan year ran from February 1 through January 31 of the following year. This resulted in some confusion because the plan year was dated based on the ending January date. Thus, the 2002 plan year extended from February 1, 2001, through January 31, 2002. Each year, Dick & Rick’s made a deposit to the plan. If the plan year ended on January 31, 2002, Dick & Rick’s was required to make its deposit by October 15, 2002. After the deposit was made, Dick & Rick’s bookkeeper prepared a tax return and a statement for Dick & Rick’s and its employees. The statement would be finalized in either December or January. For example, the statement for the 2002 plan year would be available in January 2003.
Lee vested in the retirement plan within two years after she began her employment with Dick & Rick’s. Each employee received a summary plan description when the employee vested. Thereafter, each employee received an annual statement in December or January. The yearly statement was the most current information an employee received. Dick & Rick’s did not have more current information. According to Richard Zirbes, Dick & Rick’s owner, Lee received statements from him each year. The plan administrator, who was not an employee of the company, had more detailed information, and Lee was free to direct questions to the administrator if she sought more detailed or current information.
In February 2004, Lee requested information about the pension and profit-sharing plan and about expenditures and revenues for May 2003 through January 2004. Her pension and profit-sharing questions were answered by the plan administrator in March 2004. It is not clear from the record whether Lee received the other requested information. But the additional information she sought would be covered generally by the profit-and-loss statements that Lee received monthly.
In May 2004, Lee met with Zirbes to discuss her concerns about the way her commission was calculated and the increase in her health-insurance premiums. Zirbes advised Lee to look for another job if she was unhappy. Lee did not renew her complaints. On August 9, 2004, without providing a reason, Lee gave notice that she was quitting effective August 20, 2004. On August 20, Zirbes advised Lee that she would be required to write a letter of resignation. Lee stated in the letter that she was quitting because she did not receive adequate financial information about her commissions and had not received her share of the health-insurance premium holiday. Lee acknowledged in the letter that Zirbes stated that she would not receive her final paycheck until she submitted the letter of resignation.
Lee subsequently applied for unemployment benefits. On December 22, 2004, a department adjudicator determined that Lee was not disqualified from receiving benefits. Dick & Rick’s appealed to an unemployment law judge, who found that Lee had good reason to quit attributable to Dick & Rick’s because Lee had not received revenue and expense information in a timely manner and because she did not receive reimbursement for the health-insurance premium holiday.
Dick & Rick’s appealed this decision to the senior unemployment review judge (SURJ), who concluded that Lee was disqualified from receiving benefits. Finding Dick & Rick’s evidence more credible, the SURJ found that Lee had received financial and pension and profit-sharing information in a timely fashion. The SURJ also concluded that the failure to reimburse Lee for the $220 premium was not an adverse employment event that would cause a reasonable employee to quit. This certiorari appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
the decision of the SURJ rather than that of the unemployment law judge. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp.,
526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (
Lee argues that, because
Dick & Rick’s failed to provide her with updated information about her
pension and profit-sharing plan, restricted her access to the financial
information on which her commissions were based, and refused to reimburse her
for the health-insurance premium holiday, she had a good reason to quit attributable
to her employer. An employee who quits her
employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the
employee quit “because of a good reason caused by the employer.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2004). Whether an employee had a good
reason to quit caused by the employer is a question of law, which we review de
novo. Peppi v.
Phyllis Wheatley Cmty. Ctr., 614 N.W.2d 750, 752 (
A good reason caused by the employer for quitting 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 employment.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a) (2004). Examples of a good reason to quit caused by the employer include a reduction in wages, a demotion, and a change in hours, Rootes v. Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc., 669 N.W.2d 416, 419 (Minn. App. 2003); a failure to grant a promised raise, Hayes v. K-Mart Corp., 665 N.W.2d 550, 552-53 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Sept. 24, 2003); and a breach of the employment contract, Krantz v. Loxtercamp Transp., Inc., 410 N.W.2d 24, 26 (Minn. App. 1987); Baker v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops No. 154, 394 N.W.2d 564, 566 (Minn. App. 1986).
The SURJ credited the testimony of Zirbes and Dozois, finding that Lee’s claim that she did not receive current or adequate financial information regarding her commissions was not supported by the evidence. Zirbes and Dozois testified that Lee received annual pension and profit-sharing information. And Dozois testified that Lee was provided the summary plan description the year she vested. Zirbes also testified that Lee was given profit-and-loss statements. The SURJ found that, of the materials Lee specifically requested about her commissions, “[m]uch of the information was previously available to her.” The SURJ also found that, based on the information it received, Dick & Rick’s reasonably believed it was not required to reimburse its employees for the health-insurance premium holiday. These findings are supported by the record.
Accordingly, we conclude that Lee did not quit for a good reason caused by her employer. Lee was given the information she requested in a timely manner. She was not entitled to unfettered access to company records. Although Lee met on one occasion with Zirbes to discuss her concerns about her commissions and the increase in her insurance premiums, she did not address this issue again. Moreover, the dispute over the $220 premium reimbursement, while not frivolous, is not the type of significant employment action that would cause an average, reasonable employee to quit. Thus, the SURJ did not err in concluding that Lee is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.