This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).







Sherrie Williams,





Meridian Services Inc.,



Department of Employment and Economic Development,



Filed June 12, 2007


Ross, Judge


Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 3370 06


Sherrie A. Williams, 2315 West Second Street, Upper Unit, Duluth, MN 55806-3496 (pro se relator)


Meridian Services Inc., 44 28th Avenue North, St. Cloud, MN 56303-4588 (respondent)


Lee B. Nelson, Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development)



Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


ROSS, Judge


By writ of certiorari, Sherrie Williams challenges an unemployment law judge’s determination that she quit her employment with Meridian Services Inc. and is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.  She argues that her employer discharged her and that she did not receive a fair hearing.  Because the record supports the finding that Williams quit, and it demonstrates that she received a fair hearing, we affirm.


Sherrie Williams was employed briefly as a part-time counselor by Meridian Services Inc. from July to September 2005.  This case primarily concerns how to define the end of Williams’s employment.  Williams contends that Meridian discharged her, while Meridian contends that Williams voluntarily quit when she failed to report to work.

            Williams was injured at work on September 3, 2005.  Her chiropractor initially recommended no work for two weeks, but on September 14 changed her work restrictions and cleared her to work for up to fourhours a day engaging in only nonstrenuous tasks.  The same day, Williams’s supervisor, Jennifer Meixell, telephoned Williams and left a message for her to report for work at 9:00 the next morning.  Williams returned the call that evening, questioning how Meridian received information from her chiropractor.  She told Meixell that she was unaware of the changed restrictions and that she had a 10:00 a.m. chiropractor’s appointment the next day.  Meixell told her to verify the changed work restrictions and call her after her appointment.

On Thursday, September 15, Meixell telephoned Williams early in the afternoon and left a message that Meridian had received written confirmation from Williams’s chiropractor and that, consistent with her work restrictions, the company had nonstrenuous office work for her to perform.  Meixell told Williams that she was scheduled to work from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning the next day.  She also told Williams to inform Meixell of any medical appointments that would conflict with the schedule.  Williams did not respond to the message.

On September 16, Williams arrived at Meridian’s office almost two hours late.  Williams was disruptive in the lobby.  Stephen Hage, Meridian’s chief administrative officer, and Meixell told her that she was late and that she should leave and return on Monday at 9:00 a.m.  Meixell handed Williams a letter that described her work schedule.  Williams left the office, but she soon returned and refused to leave.  Meridian’s receptionist called the police, and officers escorted Williams off the property.  The police report of the incident states that two officers told Williams that she could not return until “her appointed work time on Monday.”

But on Monday, September 19, Williams did not report to work at 9:00 a.m.  She telephoned at about 12:30 p.m. and spoke with JenniferSchraut, Meixell’s supervisor.  Williamsfirst stated that she was told to return to the office at 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning.  But sheclaimed that both Schraut and the police had told her she could not return to work.  While Williams was on the phone, Schrautspoke to Hage, who confirmed that Williams was welcome on the property.  Schraut relayed this information to Williams and repeated several times that she had not been fired, but Williams replied that she would not return to Meridian

Meridian sent Williams a letter documenting her September 19 absence and restating her work schedule for the balance of the week.  Williams did not report to work the following two days.  Meridian sent another letter to Williams when she failed to report on September 20, restating her work schedule.  On September 21, Meridian sent Williams a letter stating that it had been 48 hours since she was last directed to report to work and, in accordance with company policy, Meridian assumed that she had voluntarily resigned.  Meridian accepted her resignation.

Williams applied for unemployment benefits, but the Department of Employment and Economic Development disqualified her from receiving benefits based on its finding that she voluntarily quit employment.  Following a hearing, an unemployment law judge (ULJ) also found that Williams had quit.  The ULJ affirmed her order on Williams’s request for reconsideration. 


By writ of certiorari, Williams now challenges the ULJ’s determination.  She contends that she had a daily 10:00 a.m. chiropractor’s appointment because of her injury, that her appointments explain her absences, that Meridian knew about the appointments and refused to accommodate her, and that the company discharged her to end her workers’ compensation benefits.  Williams also challenges the fairness of the hearing before the ULJ.  Her claims are unpersuasive.


A person who quits employment without a good reason caused by the employer is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (Supp. 2005).  A quit occurs when the employee makes the decision to end employment.  Id., subd. 2(a) (2004).  A discharge occurs when an employer’s words or actions would lead a reasonable employee to believe that he or she is no longer allowed to work for the employer in any capacity.  Id., subd. 5(a) (2004).  A discharged employee qualifies for unemployment benefits unless the employee was discharged for employment misconduct.  Id., subd. 4 (Supp. 2005).

We will reverse or modify a ULJ’s decision if a relator’s substantial rights were prejudiced because the ULJ’s findings, inferences, conclusions, or decisions are unconstitutional, exceed statutory authority or jurisdiction, result from unlawful procedure, are affected by an error of law, are unsupported by substantial evidence in the record, or are arbitrary or capricious.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (Supp. 2005).  Whether an employee quit employment is a question of fact.  Midland Elec., Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 812 (Minn. App. 1985).  We defer to the ULJ’s credibility determinations.  Skarhus v. Davanni’s Inc., 721 N.W.2d 340, 344 (Minn. App. 2006).

The record readily supports the ULJ’s determination that Williams quit her employment with Meridian.  Meixell, Schraut, and Hageeach testified that none knew of Williams’s ongoing chiropractor appointments.  On September 15, Meixell told Williams to inform her of any appointments that would conflict with the work schedule.  The record reflects that Williams told Schraut about her September 15 appointment.  Schraut and Meixell testified that they could have changed Williams’s schedule had they known about her other alleged appointments.  Williams’s testimony alternated between conflicting assertions that Meridian knew about her appointments but refused to accommodate her and that Meridian never asked her or gave her an opportunity to disclose the appointments.  Meridian’s employees testified that Meridian first learned of her ongoing appointments in March 2006 when Williams challenged the department’s determination that she was disqualified from unemployment benefits.  The record supports the ULJ’s finding that Williams did not notify Meridian that she had ongoing appointments.

Williams’s contention that she was discharged on September 16 is not supported by the record.  Williams testified that she did not return to work after September 16 because she “wasn’t allowed to return to work” and that she considered herself fired when Hage told her to leave Meridian’s property.  But the record supports the determination that on September 16, four people expressly told Williams to report to work as scheduled on Monday.  Meixell told her to come back Monday.  Hage confined his directive that Williams avoid the workplace to that Friday and the weekend, directing her to return on September 19.  And the police documented that two officers also told Williams that she could not return to the property until her scheduled work period on Monday.  When Williams called Meridian on September 19, Schraut told her threetimes that she could return to work.  The letters Meridian provided to Williams stated that she was scheduled to work the week of September 19.  Although Williams disputes that she was told she could return on Monday, we defer to the ULJ’s credibility findings.  The ULJ found the testimony by Meridian’s employees to be detailed and persuasive, and that even some of Williams’s testimony supports the ULJ’s decision.  See Ywswf v. Teleplan Wireless Servs., Inc., 726 N.W.2d 525, 532-33 (Minn. App. 2007) (stating factors ULJ may consider when evaluating credibility).  Williams failed to report to work on September 19, 20 and 21.  The record supports the ULJ’s finding that Williams was stubborn and unjustified in her refusal to return to Meridian.  She defiantly refused to leave when she was not to be at work, and defiantly refused to return when she was to be at work.  Williams voluntarily quit her employment with Meridian.


We have addressed Williams’s claim that Meridian did not treat her fairly, we note without addressing that she alleged that the police did not treat her fairly when evicting her from Meridian, and we now address her claim that the ULJ treated her unfairly in the proceeding.

A ULJ should conduct a hearing as an evidence-gathering inquiry rather than an adversarial proceeding.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 1(b) (Supp. 2005).  The ULJ must ensure that all relevant facts are developed.  Id.  When a party is not represented by counsel, the ULJ should assist the party with presenting evidence.  Minn. R. 3310.2921 (2005).  The ULJ also must “exercise control over the hearing procedure in a manner that protects the parties’ right to a fair hearing.”  Id.

Williams makes three primary allegations of unfairness.  She maintains that the ULJ overlooked her evidence, the ULJ treated her unfairly because she was unrepresented, and the ULJ “cut off” some of her questions to Meridian’s witnesses.  The record does not support Williams’s allegations.  Williams did not present any documentary evidence that contradicts the ULJ’s findings.  And neither party was represented by counsel at the hearing.  The ULJ questioned each testifying witness thoroughly, offered Williams an opportunity to question Meridian’s witnesses, and provided Williams several opportunities to testify to anything else she wanted to add.  The record also does not indicate that the ULJ inappropriately “cut off” Williams’s questions.  At times, rather than asking a question, Williams began presenting a narrative statement.  The ULJ appropriately interjected to remind her to ask a question or to assist her in phrasing the question.  When Williams demanded to know how her behavior on September 16 was disruptive, the ULJ initially told the parties that she did not want to address the matter in depth because Williams was not discharged for that behavior.  But whenWilliams insisted it was important, the ULJ allowed the Meridian employees to respond to Williams’s question, despite its irrelevance.  The record establishes that the ULJ conducted a fair and unbiased hearing.