This opinion will be unpublished and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
Laura L. Goodman,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed January 9, 2007
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 13410 05
Elizabeth Melton, Foley &
John M. LeFevre Jr., Kennedy and
Linda A. Holmes, Lee B. Nelson, Department of Employment and Economic Development, First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent Department)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Huspeni, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator appeals by writ of certiorari from the decision of the unemployment-law judge that relator quit her employment without good reason caused by her employer and that, consequently, she is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. We affirm.
Laura Goodman was hired on September 8, 2003, as the deputy police chief for
respondent City of
During Goodman’s March 2005 performance review, the police chief told Goodman that she needed to improve her relationships with staff. While this was the third conversation between Goodman and the chief on the subject, Goodman told the chief for the first time that she thought that his criticism was motivated by Goodman’s gender. Goodman testified that later the chief met with Goodman and the city’s human-resources director, and during the meeting the chief told Goodman that they were “no longer in sync” and gave her the choice of resigning or being given a negative performance review and being placed on a work plan. Goodman testified that before March 2005 she had a good working relationship with the chief.
On May 23, 2005, Goodman wrote to the city manager, stating that she believed that “the perception that [she is] unfriendly is an issue that would not have arisen if [she were] a man and that the recent negative performance evaluation was precipitated by [her] expressing this concern to the chief.” Goodman’s letter concluded with an offer to retire if certain of her demands were met. The city manager replied that he was satisfied that the chief was “proceeding in a fashion designed to have [Goodman’s position] succeed.”
The chief placed Goodman on a 90-day work plan, commencing on May 31, 2005, during which Goodman was to have weekly evaluation meetings with the chief. The work plan identified five skills for improvement, but Goodman testified that before instituting the work plan, the chief had focused only on staff relationships and had not discussed the other skills with Goodman. Goodman signed the work plan, although she testified that she “had no choice but to sign the document” or be fired.
the work plan, Goodman continued to have difficulties, which eventually resulted
in her resignation. Goodman testified
that the chief would unexpectedly change the agenda at their meetings, which
left her unprepared; that the chief increased her job responsibilities; and
that the chief, despite an earlier oral agreement to the contrary, refused to
give her permission to attend a conference in
Respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development determined that relator was disqualified from receiving benefits. Goodman appealed, and an unemployment-law judge (ULJ) affirmed, finding that Goodman quit without good reason caused by her employer. While the ULJ found that Goodman was not discriminated against because of her gender, the ULJ made no findings on Goodman’s retaliation claim. The ULJ also made no findings on Goodman’s claim that the work plan was designed to force her resignation. Upon a motion for reconsideration, the ULJ affirmed her earlier decision, and this certiorari appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
argues that she had good reason caused by her employer to quit and is,
therefore, qualified to receive unemployment benefits. Upon review of a ULJ’s decision, this court may affirm, remand for
further proceedings, reverse, or modify the decision. Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (Supp.
2005). This court will affirm unless, in
relevant part, the findings are unsupported by substantial evidence in view of
the entire record or the decision was affected by error of law.
There is no dispute that Goodman quit her employment. Under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2004), an employee who voluntarily quits her employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the employee had “good reason caused by the employer” to quit. An employee has a “good reason” if the employer is responsible for an action that (1) is directly related to the employment, (2) is adverse to the employee, and (3) would “compel” an average, reasonable employee “to quit and become unemployed” rather than to continue working. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a) (Supp. 2005). But notification of future discharge is not a good reason to quit. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(e) (Supp. 2005).
proffers three bases for concluding that the actions of the city gave her good
reason to quit. First, Goodman argues
that the evidence supports a finding that the city retaliated against her
because of her complaint of gender discrimination. An employer that violates the law in its
treatment of its employees is “per se guilty of employer misconduct,” and the
employee has good reason to quit. Hawthorne v. Universal Studios, Inc.,
432 N.W.2d 759, 762 (
cites no authority in support of her retaliation claim, but we nevertheless
choose to address it. To make out a
claim under either the federal or the state statute, an employee must establish
that there is a causal connection between the employee’s statutorily protected
conduct and the employer’s alleged adverse employment action. Clark v.
Johanns, 460 F.3d 1064, 1067 (8th Cir. 2006) (discussing the federal
standard); Kuechle v. Life’s Companion
P.C.A., Inc., 653 N.W.2d 214, 221 (
Goodman has not established an adverse employment action. In construing the MHRA,
Goodman argues that receiving a poor performance review, being placed on a work
plan, and being reassigned to the detective division all are adverse employment
actions. But poor performance reviews
are not, standing alone, adverse employment actions. Stutler
Goodman argues that the evidence supports a finding that she had good reason to
quit because the chief designed the work plan “to force [her] to resign.” In particular, Goodman argues that she was “given
so many additional tasks that [she was] bound to fail”; that during evaluation
meetings, she was “hit with an interrogation about a completely different subject”
from the subject that she expected to discuss; and that she worked hard to
complete the work plan but was “never given direction or assistance.” Again, Goodman cites no authority in support
of her argument, but we will address it. An employer’s unreasonable demands may be a
good reason to quit. Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc.,
272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (
Although the ULJ recited Goodman’s argument that the work plan “made it nearly impossible for her to succeed,” the ULJ made no findings on this issue. But Goodman quit before completing the work plan; and as the ULJ noted, even if Goodman had been on the verge of failing the plan and losing her position, “anticipation of a discharge” is not a good reason to quit. See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(e) (Supp. 2005) (providing that notification of future discharge is not a good reason to quit).
Goodman argues that the “conditions of her employment were changed
significantly and drastically,” giving her good reason to quit. An employee may have good reason to quit when
she is placed in a position that “requires substantially less skill than [the
employee] possesses.” Marty v. Digital Equip. Corp., 345
N.W.2d 773, 775 (
But Goodman has offered no evidence that her full-time, managerial position was substantively changed to the same extent as was the relator’s job in Holbrook. Further, unlike the relator in Marty,Goodman has not established that her opportunities for further advancement were limited. Thus, whatever discontent the reorganization caused Goodman, it was not a good reason to quit caused by the city.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.