This opinion will be unpublished and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
Becky A. Cole,
Lutheran Social Service of
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed November 6, 2007
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 9081 06
Becky A. Cole, 3447 Central Avenue NE, Apartment 101, Minneapolis, MN 55418 (pro se relator)
Amanda C. Craig, Dennis J. Merley, Felhaber, Larson, Fenlon, & Vogt, P.A., 220 South Sixth Street, Suite 2200, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota)
Lee B. Nelson, Department of Employment and Economic Development, First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Department)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Worke, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator challenges the decision by the unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that she was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, arguing that she had good reason to quit caused by the employer. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
This court may affirm the decision of the unemployment-law judge (ULJ), remand the case for further proceedings, or reverse or modify the decision if
the substantial rights of the petitioner may have been prejudiced because the findings, inferences, conclusion, or decision are:
(6) arbitrary or capricious.
Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (2006). Findings of fact are viewed in the light most favorable to the ULJ’s decision, and deference is given to the ULJ’s credibility determinations. Skarhus v. Davanni’s Inc., 721 N.W.2d 340, 344 (Minn. App. 2006). Whether an individual quit employment and the reason the individual quit are questions of fact for the ULJ to determine. Beyer v. Heavy Duty Air, Inc., 393 N.W.2d 380, 382 (Minn. App. 1986). Whether, based upon the findings, the applicant falls under a statutory exception to disqualification is a question of law this court reviews de novo. Peppi v. Phyllis Wheatley Cmty. Ctr., 614 N.W.2d 750, 752 (Minn. App. 2000).
Relator Becky A. Cole quit her job with respondent Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota (LSSM). Relator worked with a web-design group hired by LSSM to keep their website functional and updated. Relator’s resignation letter stated, “[w]ith my skills and abilities well beyond a clerical position, I no longer feel this is a good fit for me, or a good use of my time.” Respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) found that relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she quit without a good reason caused by the employer. Relator appealed the decision and a hearing was scheduled. On the morning of the hearing, relator faxed DEED a letter stating that she would not be participating in the hearing because she had to work. The ULJ found that relator quit her employment with LSSM because she “became frustrated with the working relationship with [a] consultant and felt that her skills were not being properly utilized by LSSM.” The ULJ found that this was not a good reason caused by the employer and, therefore, relator was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Relator requested reconsideration, and the ULJ affirmed his decision.
An applicant who quit employment shall be disqualified from all unemployment benefits unless an exception applies. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (Supp. 2005). An exception to disqualification applies when “the applicant quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the employer.” Id., subd. 1(1). “What constitutes good reason caused by the employer is defined exclusively by statute.” Rootes v. Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc., 669 N.W.2d 416, 418 (Minn. App. 2003); Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(g) (2004) (providing that statutory definition is exclusive and that no other definition shall apply).
A good reason caused by the employer for quitting is a reason:
(1) that is directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible;
(2) that is adverse to the worker; and
(3) that would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a) (2004). “[T]here must be some compulsion produced by extraneous and necessitous circumstances.” Ferguson v. Dep’t of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976). The reasonable-worker standard is objective and is applied to the average person rather than the supersensitive. Id. “The determination that an employee quit without good reason [caused by] the employer is a legal conclusion, but the conclusion must be based on findings that have the requisite evidentiary support.” Nichols v. Reliant Eng’g & Mfg., Inc., 720 N.W.2d 590, 594 (Minn. App. 2006).
There is no evidence to support relator’s argument that she quit her employment because of a good reason caused by LSSM. Relator quit because she was unhappy with her duties and the individuals with whom she was working. Relator argues that it was an “unhealthy” work environment, but she fails to state the exact nature of the adverse working conditions. It appears that relator merely disagreed with certain management decisions involving the employer’s business, she was frustrated with having to work with the consultant and did not feel like she was part of the team, and there were communication difficulties between relator and management. Relator’s complaints do not constitute good reason to quit caused by the employer.
Finally, relator argues that she had good cause to miss the hearing. When relator appealed the determination of disqualification, she received notice of the hearing date. She had more than sufficient time to make arrangements to participate in the hearing or request that it be rescheduled. However, relator waited until the morning of the hearing to notify DEED that she would be unable to participate because she had to work and did not request that it be rescheduled. Under these circumstances, relator waived her right to participate in the hearing. Appellant also repeatedly submitted a list of questions to the ULJ, which the ULJ never addressed. In waiving her right to participate in the hearing, appellant also waived her opportunity to have her issues addressed.