This opinion will be unpublished and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
Scott Lane Williams,
Pete's Repair, Inc.,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed May 28, 1996
Department of Economic Security
Agency File No. 6276 UC 95
Scott Lane Williams, 11036 118th Street N.W., Annandale, MN 55302 (Relator Pro Se)
Pete's Repair, Inc., 8835 Xylon Avenue North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445 (Respondent Employer Pro Se)
Kent E. Todd, Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Holtan, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator Scott Lane Williams filed a claim for reemployment insurance benefits after respondent Pete's Repair, Inc. considered his employment terminated. Williams now appeals by writ of certiorari, challenging the respondent Commissioner of Economic Security's decision that he voluntarily discontinued his employment without good cause attributable to the employer. Because we conclude that the evidence reasonably tends to support the Commissioner's decision, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
On appeal, we review "the findings of the commissioner or the commissioner's representative, not those of the [reemployment insurance judge], even though those findings might involve witness credibility." Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). We must determine whether "there is evidence reasonably tending to sustain those findings," which we view in the light most favorable to the Commissioner's decision. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
An individual is disqualified for a limited period of time from receiving reemployment insurance benefits if he has voluntarily quit his job without good cause attributable to his employer. Minn. Stat. ' 268.09, subd. 1(a) (1994). Whether an employee has voluntarily discontinued employment or was discharged from employment is a question of fact to be determined by the Commissioner. Midland Elec., Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 812 (Minn. App. 1985). Whether there was good cause attributable to the employer is a question of law on which the court is free to exercise its own judgment. See Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978); Porrazzo v. Nabisco, Inc., 360 N.W.2d 662, 664 (Minn. App. 1985).
Voluntariness of Separation
A voluntary quit requires some act by an employee acquiescing in or consenting to the unemployment. Kitchen v. G.R. Herberger's, Inc., 262 Minn. 135, 141, 114 N.W.2d 64, 68 (1962). In other words, a quit is voluntary if an employee "no longer desires to remain in the [employee-employer] relationship." Bergseth v. Zinsmaster Baking Co., 252 Minn. 63, 65-66, 89 N.W.2d 172, 174 (1958). A quit is also considered voluntary when an employee "directly or indirectly exercised a free-will choice" to leave employment. Anson v. Fisher Amusement Corp., 254 Minn. 93, 98, 93 N.W.2d 815, 819 (1958) (emphasis omitted).
The evidence relevant to the voluntariness of Williams' separation included: (1) on June 2, Williams turned in tools to another employee; (2) Williams told that employee that he was fed up with others talking behind his back and with his inability to get along with his supervisor; (3) Williams made a number of other statements to the employee about his dissatisfaction with the work; (4) after Williams left, the employee called the office and told the office manager that Williams had quit; (5) there was continuing work available for Williams; (6) Williams did not attempt to contact his supervisor or anyone else at Pete's Repair for one week; and (7) on June 9, Williams contacted the owner of Pete's Repair to apologize and tell the owner that he wanted to come back to work. Based on this evidence, the Commissioner's representative concluded that "the employer reasonably interpreted the claimant's behavior as a voluntary termination."
Williams insisted that he never intended to quit, that he believed his work assignments had been completed on June 1, that it was not unusual for him to be laid-off for days or even a week at a time, and that he had asked his co-worker to tell someone from Pete's Repair to call him when more work became available. The Commissioner's representative, however, was free to reject or ignore Williams' explanations for waiting a week to contact Pete's Repair.
The evidence thus reasonably sustains finding that Williams voluntarily quit his employment and that Pete's Repair reasonably believed Williams had quit. See Wing-Piu Chan v. Pagoda, Inc., 342 N.W.2d 174, 175 (Minn. App. 1984) (if employee tells employer he is quitting, employer has right to believe employee and to hire replacement).
Good cause attributable to the employer has been found in situations in which the employer has treated the employee unfairly or unreasonably or where the employer has violated the terms of the employment agreement or contract. See Hanson v. I.D.S. Properties Management Co., 308 Minn. 422, 423-25, 242 N.W.2d 833, 834-35 (1976).
Williams quit his job a day after he had been reprimanded for failing to adhere to a work schedule and for making negative comments about Pete's Repair to a customer. Pete's Repair was justified in bringing these matters to Williams' attention. We do not believe that the reprimand constituted good cause to quit.
Williams was also dissatisfied with his supervisor. Good cause attributable to an employer is not established by an employee's personality conflict with the employer or dissatisfaction with working conditions. See, e.g., Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass'n, 409 N.W.2d 23, 26 (Minn. App. 1987); Portz v. Pipestone Skelgas, 397 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1986); Bongiovanni v. Vanlor Invs., 370 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. App. 1985). Williams has failed to establish any good cause attributable to the employer that justified quitting his employment.
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, ' 10.