This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Steven Donald Dorr,
John Deere Shared Services Inc.,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed September 4, 2007
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 6062 06
Steven D. Dorr, 9743 Magnolia Street Northwest, Coon Rapids, MN 55433 (pro se relator)
John Deere Shared Services Inc., c/o Lora Brandt, Attention Tax Department, 1 John Deere Place, Moline, IL 61265-8010 (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 Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Muehlberg, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator Steven Donald Dorr challenges the unemployment law judge’s (ULJ) determination that he quit his employment without good reason caused by the employer. Relator also argues that by failing to obtain documentation that relator requested, the ULJ did not properly develop the record. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
Relator was employed by respondent John Deere Shared Services (John Deere) as a machine-maintenance technician from August 25, 2004, until February 23, 2006. Relator voluntarily terminated his employment after a series of disputes with John Deere management.
Relator argues that the ULJ erred by determining that he quit without good reason caused by the employer. An employee who voluntarily quits is entitled to unemployment benefits if the decision to quit was the result of a good reason caused by the employer. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2004). Whether an employee terminated his employment for good reason caused by the employer is a question of law that this court reviews de novo. Rootes v. Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc., 669 N.W.2d 416, 418 (Minn. App. 2003). The applicant bears the burden of proving good cause. Haskins v. Choice Auto Rental, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 507, 510 (Minn. App. 1997). A good reason to quit is a reason (1) directly related to employment and for which the employer is responsible; (2) that is adverse to the worker; and (3) is significant enough that it would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remain in the employment. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a) (2004).
Good cause for the employee’s voluntary termination of employment does not result from the employee’s irreconcilable differences with the employer, or through mere frustration or dissatisfaction with working conditions. Ryks v. Nieuwsma Livestock Equip., 410 N.W.2d 380, 382 (Minn. App. 1987). “The standard for determining good cause is that ‘standard of reasonableness as applied to the average man or woman, and not to the supersensitive.’” Erb v. Comm’r of Econ. Sec., 601 N.W.2d 716, 718 (Minn. App. 1999).
Here, relator contends that John Deere’s failure to timely respond to requests to review his employee file constitutes good cause for voluntarily terminating his employment with the company. We disagree. Relator has not met his burden under the three-part good cause test. Specifically, relator fails to establish how John Deere’s alleged dilatory response to his requests for information was adverse to him or would have caused an average, reasonable worker to quit.
Relator has expressed frustration in being unable to obtain copies of the written reports of disciplinary action taken against him that were contained in his employee file. But relator, whose signature appears on the reports, acknowledges that at the time he was disciplined, he was allowed to review the contents of the reports and respond to the allegations in writing. Furthermore, several weeks before relator quit, he received copies of the reports and was permitted to review his file in the presence of a human resources manager.
In addition, relator has not identified any information in his file that was time-sensitive or critical to his rights and responsibilities as an employee of John Deere. The only adverse effect cited by relator that resulted from his inability to obtain prompt access to his file was general frustration or “disharmony” between him and John Deere management. And general differences or frustration with an employer do not constitute good cause for purposes of determining eligibility for unemployment benefits. Ryks, 410 N.W.2d at 382. Without any evidence of undue hardship, the record supports the ULJ’s determination that relator did not have good cause to voluntarily terminate his employment.
Relator also claims that his decision to quit was justified by John Deere’s failure to comply with state law. Minn. Stat. § 181.961, subds. 1, 2 (2004), require that, upon written request, employers must provide employees with an opportunity to review their personnel files within seven working days of the request. It is unclear from the record whether John Deere complied with this statutory directive. But this statute is enforceable only by civil action in the name of the Department of Labor and Industry, Minn. Stat. § 181.9641. And relator cites no authority that a violation of the statute gives an employee good cause to quit.
Finally, relator asserts that the ULJ failed to ensure that the record was properly developed. By rule, the ULJ “shall ensure that relevant facts are clearly and fully developed.” Minn. R. 3310.2921. Relator claims that the ULJ did not adhere to the rule because the ULJ “repeatedly failed to obtain documentation . . . supporting [John Deere’s] testimony.” But a ULJ has considerable discretion in deciding whether to receive evidence into the record. The rules for admission of evidence are relaxed in employment compensation proceedings, and any evidence that possesses probative value, including hearsay, may be considered. Minn. R. 3310.2922. Thus, even if some of the testimony presented by John Deere at the hearing was not substantiated by documentation, no rule prohibits the admission of such evidence. Rather, the ULJ may weigh the lack of documentary support in determining its probative value.
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.