This opinion will be unpublished and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
Center Cut Meat, LLC,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed August 15, 2006
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 17370-05
Cut Meats, LLC,
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 1st National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E-200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Randall, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator challenges the decision by the unemployment law judge (ULJ) affirming her decision that relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because he had quit employment without good reason caused by his employer. Because the words of the employer would lead a reasonable employee to believe the employer would not allow him to work in any capacity, we reverse.
Relator worked full time for respondent Center Cut Meat as a manager/caterer from late April 2005 until early November 2005. Relator, who had previously owned his own business, sold some of his equipment to his employer. They later disputed whether money was still due on the equipment that relator had delivered to the business.
Before relator began work on Friday, November 4, 2005, he and his employer once again discussed their dispute, which led to relator’s separation from his employment. Relator testified that he told his employer that if the employer did not start making payments toward the equipment, relator would have to take it and sell it to another party. The employer testified that he told relator that he wanted the building key back and that “I told him at that time to take any personal equipment . . . any personal items he wanted but no equipment that we purchased from him.” Relator believed that he had been fired because he had been told to return the keys and that he could take only his personal belongings. After checking with the police, relator turned in his keys and the company credit card to the employer and left. The parties had further conversation that afternoon, and the owner called relator on Sunday at home and asked him to return his uniform and told him he would have his last check ready.
After the hearing, the ULJ ruled that relator had quit employment, that the dispute regarding the equipment was not directly related to relator’s employment and did not provide good cause for him to quit, and that he was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Relator sought reconsideration, and the ULJ affirmed her earlier decision. This certiorari appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
Under the current statutory scheme, the evidentiary hearing is held before the unemployment law judge (ULJ), who makes findings of fact and a decision. Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 1(a), (c) (Supp. 2005). An applicant may file a request for reconsideration, which the ULJ decides. Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 2(a) (Supp. 2005). Consequently, this court reviews the ULJ’s findings.
This court may reverse
or modify the ULJ’s decision if the substantial rights of the employee may have
been prejudiced because the findings, inferences, conclusion, or decision are
affected by error of law or unsupported by substantial evidence. Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (Supp.
2005). “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 (
“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. 2(a) (2004). In contrast, “[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.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 5(a) (2004) (emphasis added).
While the ULJ concluded that the record showed that the
employer, by asking for the keys, merely wanted to ensure that relator did not
remove the equipment without authorization, and that at no time during these
events did the owner convey to relator that he could not continue his
employment, we cannot agree. A reasonable
employee, when told to turn in his keys and advised he could remove personal
items but not equipment the employer believed he owned—as the employer
testified that he told relator—would believe he was being told he was
fired. The record does not support the
ULJ’s determination. Under the statutory
definition, relator was discharged.
Later discussions between the parties do not alter these facts. Because relator was discharged and there is
no claim of misconduct, he is qualified to receive unemployment benefits.
In light of our decision, it is unnecessary to reach other issues raised by relator.