This opinion will be unpublished and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
Kim L. Michael,
Marco Co., Inc.,
Department of Employment and
Filed December 19, 2006
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 1558905
Peter B. Knapp, Joshua G. James, Certified Student Attorney, William Mitchell Law Clinic, 875 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 (for relator)
Howard P. Helgen, Helgen & Helgen, P.A., 1740 116th Avenue NW, Suite 130, Coon Rapids, MN 55448 (for respondent Marco)
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, E200 First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Department)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Worke, Judge, and Ross, Judge.
Relator Kim Michael challenges a decision by an unemployment law judge (ULJ), affirming the ULJ’s earlier decision that relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because he quit his job without good reason caused by his employer, respondent Marco Co., Inc. Because the evidence substantially supports the decision of the ULJ that relator quit his job due to stress from personal reasons, not due to any reasons attributable to the employer, we affirm.
Relator was hired by Marco in July 2004 to work full time as a sandblaster. In March 2005, relator tore a nerve in his back while on the job. The injury caused him extreme pain, and he received a prescription for the painkiller Vicodin.
Marco’s owner, Mike Marjma, informed relator that he could not work as a sandblaster while under the influence of Vicodin. Relator was allowed to perform light-duty work for Marco until April 18, 2005, when he was medically cleared to return to full duty with no limitations.
Following his return, relator and Marjma had a number of discussions about relator’s poor job performance. According to Marjma, however, relator never complained of continuing back pain and never sought any accommodations.
On September 24, relator returned to the hospital to seek treatment for his back. Doctors put him back on pain medication, telling him that his level of stress over his personal life, which included losing custody of his children, was likely aggravating his back problems. Relator testified that he felt that he was “on the verge of a nervous breakdown” because of the issues in his personal life.
On September 26, 2005, relator informed Marjma that he was going to leave his employment and that his last day would be September 28. Relator did not tell Marjma that he had been to the hospital or that he was going to be put back on pain medication.
At the hearing before the ULJ, relator testified that he quit his employment because he was under too much stress to concentrate and perform his job efficiently. He insisted that he did not quit because of his back pain, that he could “live with the pain,” and that he could have continued to work. Relator indicated that he decided to quit because he wanted to focus on his children and that he might look for work in Florida.
Marjma agreed that relator was having performance
problems but testified that he had no intention of discharging relator and that
relator could have continued to work for him.
Marjma claimed that relator did not quit because of his continuing back
injury; rather, Marjma testified that relator quit to move to
The ULJ determined that relator was disqualified from receiving benefits because he quit his job with Marco for personal reasons and not for any reasons caused by his employer.
This court may affirm the decision of a ULJ, remand it for further proceedings, or reverse or modify it if the substantial rights of the petitioner 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.” Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (Supp. 2005).
Good Reason Caused by Employer
individual who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment
benefits unless the quit was “because of a good reason caused by the
Relator, who appeared pro se before the ULJ, claimed that he quit his job with Marco because he was having performance problems due to stress. In this certiorari appeal, relator claims that he had good reason to quit because he was not permitted to take his prescribed medication while working for Marco. Relator insists that Marco’s requirement that he forego his prescribed medicine placed an unreasonable and excessive demand upon him, and that forcing him to choose between taking his prescribed medication or continuing his employment constituted a good reason to quit.
But the ULJ concluded that relator quit his job for personal reasons related to his family situation and to his back problems, neither of which were caused by his employer:
A preponderance of the evidence in this matter shows that [relator] quit his employment because he was experiencing stress related to family problems that was aggravating his back and affecting his performance. [Relator] argued that he was discharged; however the evidence on record shows that at the time his employment ended, it was his choice to end it, which means he is considered to have quit. While [relator] may have had good personal reasons for quitting, the evidence on record does not show that those reasons were attributable to Marco[.]
Because “[a] good personal reason does not equate with
good cause” to quit, the ULJ did not err in determining that relator was
disqualified from receiving benefits. Kehoe v.
Relator further claims that Marco knew that he was working with pain and that he sought accommodations from Marco in the form of light-duty work and taking his pain medication. If an employee quits due to adverse working conditions, he must complain to the employer and give the employer an opportunity to correct the adverse working conditions. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(c). Here, Marjma testified that relator failed to indicate that his back problems continued to affect his work or that he continued to suffer from severe pain; indeed, at the hearing, relator denied quitting because of back pain and emphatically stated that he could “live with the pain.”
While actual notice of adverse conditions may not always be necessary, such as in situations where it is clear that the employer is or should be aware that an employee is having problems with his working conditions, the record fails to suggest that Marco was aware of relator’s continuing back pain. And, while a request for accommodation may not always be required, there is nothing in the record to suggest that such a request would have been futile in this case: relator had already been allowed to limit himself to light duty work and he could have requested light duty work again. Thus, the record substantially supports the ULJ’s determination that relator “did not tell Marjma about his back [pain] in September 2005 and did not request any accommodations.”
Quit Caused by Medical Necessity
argues that his decision to quit was based on a medical necessity. An employee is not disqualified from
receiving benefits if a serious injury makes it medically necessary for him to
quit. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(7)
(Supp. 2005). The employee must
establish that he “inform[ed] the employer of the serious illness or injury and
request[ed] accommodation and no reasonable accommodation [was] made
The record fails to support relator’s claim that he quit because of a medical necessity, that he notified his employer of his continuing back injury, or that he requested any accommodation. While Marco was aware of the seriousness of relator’s injury in March and April 2005, and while relator requested accommodations at that time, relator was medically cleared to return to work as a sandblaster and did so on April 18, 2005.
Relator did not decide to quit his job until September 2005, nearly five months later. At the hearing before the ULJ, relator specifically denied that he quit due to pain; rather, he suggested that his decision to quit was related to his performance issues, stress over the loss of custody of his children, and a desire to move to Florida to be closer to his children. Thus, contrary to relator’s claim on appeal, the record fails to show that he quit due to a medical necessity.
Finally, relator asserts that, at the least, this court should remand the matter in order to develop the record on the issue of medical necessity. While relator appeared pro se at the hearing before the ULJ, the ULJ asked pertinent questions about relator’s reasons for quitting in order to develop the record on this issue. A remand is therefore unnecessary and would merely allow relator to change his mind or to add, in hindsight, an additional reason for quitting.
We therefore affirm the ULJ’s decision that relator quit his employment without good reason caused by his employer.