This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ' 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
George F. Fairbanks,
County of Hennepin, Medical Center,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed May 28, 1996
Department of Economic Security
File No. 7833UC95
George F. Fairbanks, Pro Se, 1201 Yale Place, #1201, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (Relator)
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, A-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for Respondent County of Hennepin, Medical Center)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Short, Presiding Judge, Norton, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator challenges his disqualification from receiving reemployment insurance benefits, contending that he quit his job with good cause attributable to the employer. We disagree and affirm.
Relator George F. Fairbanks worked full time as a credit/collections representative for respondent Hennepin County's medical center from April 17, 1995, until he quit on August 23, 1995. Relator was on probation for the first six months of employment. On August 18, 1995, relator received his first performance review, which was critical of his skills and performance. Relator responded by letter, requesting a meeting with management and tendering his immediate resignation.
Relator filed a claim for reemployment insurance and later testified that he was "not comfortable" with his clerical job, because he could not type quickly. He also felt that one of his trainers "harassed and humiliated" him. He claimed that stress from the job caused him nervousness and a need for medication, but he admitted that he had not consulted a doctor about his work circumstances. The reemployment judge and the Commissioner's representative determined that relator had not met his burden of proving that he had quit with good cause attributable to the employer.
D E C I S I O N
In reviewing a decision of the Commissioner's representative, this court views the fact findings in a light most favorable to the decision and will sustain the findings so long as the evidence reasonably tends to support them. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
Under Minnesota law, an employee disqualifies himself from receiving reemployment insurance benefits when he "voluntarily and without good cause attributable to the employer discontinue[s] employment with such employer." Minn. Stat. ' 268.09, subd. 1 (a) (Supp. 1995). The employer initially has the burden of proving that an employee is disqualified from receiving benefits because he voluntarily quit his employment. Marz v. Department of Employment Servs. 256 N.W.2d 287, 289 (Minn. 1977). Relator admits that he voluntarily resigned from his employment with Hennepin County. The focus of this appeal is on whether relator demonstrated that he quit with good cause. Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978) (employee bears burden to demonstrate he left employment for good cause attributable to employer). Whether an employee discontinues work for good cause attributable to the employer is a question of law for this court to review de novo. Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass'n, 409 N.W.2d 23, 26 (Minn. App. 1987).
In order to constitute good cause, the circumstances which compel the decision to leave employment must be real, not imaginary, substantial not trifling, and reasonable, not whimsical; there must be some compulsion produced by extraneous and necessitous circumstances. The standard of what constitutes good cause is the standard of reasonableness as applied to the average man or woman and not the supersensitive * * *.
Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976) (quoting 81 C.J.S. Social Sec. & Pub. Welfare ' 167).
At the hearing, relator testified that he resigned immediately after his performance review, because he was "not comfortable" with his clerical job, he thought it would be a "lost cause" to continue if he could not perform well enough for the County's standards, and he was stressed out from interacting with his trainer and his supervisor. Relator contends these reasons for resignation are real, substantial, and reasonable.
Although we understand that relator's problems on the job were real to him, his dissatisfaction with his job and his supervisor did not constitute good cause attributable to the employer. Portz v. Pipestone Skelgas, 397 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1986). Similarly, personality conflicts with his trainer and supervisor were not good cause to leave employment. See Trego, 409 N.W.2d at 26 (holding personality conflict with new director and dissatisfaction with working conditions did not constitute good cause to quit).
Further, in order for a dissatisfied employee such as relator to have good cause to leave employment, he must notify the employer of the problem and allow time for the employer to respond or correct the situation. Larson v. Department of Econ. Sec., 281 N.W.2d 667, 669 (Minn. 1979) (holding janitor lacked good cause to quit when he had failed to apprise employer of situation and employer had no opportunity to take action). Here, when relator expressed his concerns and resigned in the same letter, he did not give Hennepin County the opportunity to correct the situation. See Jaakola v. Duluth/Superior Area Educ. Television Corp., 374 N.W.2d 215, 217 (Minn. App. 1985) (requiring employee to notify employer and allow time to correct situation before employee may quit with good cause). His supervisor had arranged to meet with him weekly to chart his progress and job performance, but relator quit before they had the opportunity to meet.
We have considered relator's alternate grounds for quitting and conclude they also do not constitute good cause attributable to Hennepin County for relator's resignation. Relator first claims his clerical job was unsuitable for him. Minn. Stat. ' 268.09, subd. 1(c)(3), allows an employee to receive benefits if he quits voluntarily within 30 days after beginning an unsuitable job. This provision offers relator no relief, because he worked for the County for four months. Relator next contends the County had not listed typing speed as a requirement in the job posting. The posting notice required "two years of clerical experience" and "general clerical duties," which gave relator notice that efficient typing skills were required for clerical work. Relator claims the County's job evaluation process gave him good cause to quit, because he did not receive a review until his fourth month of employment. We disagree. The employee handbook recommends two performance reviews during probation, but does not mandate when they must take place. Relator also argues Hennepin County violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act by inquiring how his Veteran's disability affected his job performance. We will not consider this issue, because relator did not raise this issue or present any evidence on it at the hearing before the reemployment judge. Gonsior v. Alternative Staffing, Inc., 390 N.W.2d 801, 806 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Aug. 27, 1986).
We also note for the record that the Commissioner's representative properly determined that relator did not fall under the serious illness exception from disqualification. See Minn. Stat. ' 268.09, subd. 1(c)(2) (exempting from disqualification person separated from employment due to "serious illness provided that * * * [he] has made reasonable efforts to retain employment"). Relator did not seek medical attention to address his work situation; he diagnosed himself and recommenced taking medication that he had for stress and nervousness. He did not quit under a doctor's order. With all due respect to relator's condition, he has not met his burden of proving that a serious illness led to his resignation. See Minchew v. Minnesota Odd Fellows Home, 429 N.W.2d 702, 703 (Minn. App. 1988) (employee bears burden of proof that serious illness exception applies).
Finally, relator challenges Hennepin County's appearance on appeal, because it had not appeared at the hearing before the reemployment insurance judge. The County is an interested party that would ultimately be held liable for the benefits, if this case were reversed. The County has not sought to present any evidence outside the record here, but merely is arguing the law and the facts to protect its own interests. As a stakeholder in this action, the County is entitled to appear here on appeal.