This opinion will be unpublished and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
Michael S. Richter,
Larson Manufacturing, Inc.,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 1107505
Michael S. Richter,
Larson Manufacturing, Inc.,
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge; Minge, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*
Relator challenges the denial of his unemployment benefits, arguing that the unemployment law judge erroneously determined that he quit without a good reason caused by his employer. Because the evidence demonstrates that relator had employment available to him with his former employer and because there is no support for the claim that the unemployment law judge was biased, we affirm the determination of the unemployment law judge that relator is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
On May 27, 2005, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) notified relator Michael S. Richter that his claim for unemployment benefits had been denied. The DEED adjudicator found that Richter quit because of notice of an impending layoff, and was disqualified from receiving benefits because he had notice of the layoff and quit more than 30 days before the estimated layoff date. In addition, the adjudicator found that Richter had not shown that he quit for a good reason caused by the employer.
Richter appealed the adjudicator’s decision. After an evidentiary hearing, the unemployment law judge (ULJ) concluded that Richter quit because he was dissatisfied with the separation package offered by his employer and affirmed the decision of the adjudicator. Richter requested reconsideration of the ULJ’s determination pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 2(a) (Supp. 2005). Upon reconsideration, the ULJ modified certain factual findings but affirmed the original decision. Richter filed an appeal by writ of certiorari.
approximately 19 years, Richter worked for New Cole Sewell Corporation as a
facilities coordinator in
March 2005, Jeff Reif, Larson’s Chief Operating Officer, informed employees
Richter did not accept the separation package. Richter claimed that the amount offered to him was inadequate and he requested a larger sum. Reif denied Richter’s request. On April 8th, 2005, Richter quit his position at Larson. On his exit interview questionnaire, Richter stated that he left Larson because he did not believe that the separation package offered to him was “a fair compensation package for a long term employee.” Richter now challenges the denial of benefits, arguing that he quit for a good reason caused by his employer.
The issue in this case is whether the ULJ erred in determining that Richter quit his employment without a good reason caused by his employer. Richter brings this certiorari appeal challenging the ULJ’s order upon reconsideration. See Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(a) (Supp. 2005). This court
may affirm the decision of the [ULJ] or remand the case for further proceedings; or it may reverse or modify the decision if substantial rights of the petitioner may have been prejudiced because the findings, inferences, conclusion, or decision are:
(1) in violation of constitutional provisions;
(2) in excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the department;
(3) made upon unlawful procedure;
(4) affected by other error of law;
(5) unsupported by substantial evidence in view of the entire record as submitted; or
(6) arbitrary or capricious.
review presents a mixed question of law and fact. To the extent Richter does not deny that he
quit, certain facts are undisputed, there is a question of law, and our review
is de novo. See id., subd. 7(d)(4); see also Peppi v. Phyllis
Wheatley Cmty. Ctr.,
614 N.W.2d 750, 752 (
applicant has quit his employment, for statutory purposes, when the decision to
leave his job was his own. Minn. Stat.
§ 268.095, subd. 2(a) (2004). An
applicant who leaves his job after learning that he will be discharged in the
future is still considered to have quit his employment, if the employment
remains available to him in the interim.
“[W]hether there was good
cause attributable to the employer for the termination is whether the
reason for quitting is compelling, real and not imaginary, substantial and not
trifling, reasonable and not whimsical and capricious.” Shanahan
v. Dist. Mem. Hosp., 495 N.W.2d 894, 897 (
The ULJ found that the evidence did not support Richter’s assertion that he was to reduce his hours. Larson maintained that Richter could have stayed on full-time until the plant closed or September 30, whichever came first, without accepting the separation package, and the record shows that in fact Richter worked full-time until his last day. Also, the record does not require a finding that the severance package would lead an average long-term employee to quit. The record indicates that each employee at Larson was offered a separation package based on, among other factors, years of service and that only one other Larson employee declined the package. Finally, the ULJ questioned Richter’s credibility because he failed to report his earnings from self-employment to DEED.
In reviewing the record, we conclude that with respect to the factual dispute, the ULJ’s credibility determinations were within her discretion, the record does not support a finding that the ULJ abused her discretion, and there is substantial evidence supporting the ULJ’s decision. Based on this factual determination, we further conclude that the ULJ did not err in determining that Richter quit without a good reason caused by the employer and that he is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
also address Richter’s additional claims that the ULJ was biased against
him. First, he argues that the ULJ was
biased because she delayed the hearing at Reif’s request, even though Reif
ultimately did not appear at the rescheduled hearing. It is within the ULJ’s discretion to
reschedule hearings, and Richter has not shown that the ULJ abused her
discretion. See Goodwin v. BPS Guard Servs., Inc., 524 N.W.2d 28, 30 (
In conclusion, the ULJ’s decision is reasonable, not arbitrary and capricious, and supported by the record, and we affirm the ULJ’s decision that relator is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 Effective June 25, 2005, decisions of the ULJ are
subject to reconsideration by the same ULJ, rather than review by a senior
unemployment review judge. See 2005