This opinion will be unpublished and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

C8-96-4

Bryan E. Cichy,

Relator,

vs.

Breckenridge High, ISD #846,

Respondent,

Commissioner of Economic Security,

Respondent.

Filed June 4, 1996

Affirmed

Crippen, Judge

Department of Economic Security

Agency File No. 7427 UC 95

Bryan E. Cichy, 1225 Andrews Avenue, Breckenridge, MN 56520 (Pro se Relator)

Michael J. McCartney, Law Centre Building, 110 North 6th Street, Breckenridge, MN 56520 (for Respondent Breckenridge High)

Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)

Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N

CRIPPEN, Judge

Concluding that relator was disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits, a Commissioner's representative with the Department of Economic Security found that relator quit his job with the respondent school district not because of a claimed serious illness, but because he was elected to a position on the school board. We affirm the representative's finding of fact.

FACTS

Relator was a full-time teacher for the Breckenridge high school. Relator was upset by the conduct of his students, which he viewed as undisciplined and disruptive. Relator believed that he did not receive sufficient support from his principal and the school administration.

Relator claims that he experienced health problems as a result of the atmosphere at the school. He testified that he complained to his principal about his medical problems, and the principal stated that relator might want to reconsider his choice of career.

In 1995, relator ran for a position on the school board. He was elected to the school board and was informed that he would have to resign from his teaching position, due to a conflict of interest. Relator voluntarily quit his job and applied for reemployment insurance benefits. [1]

On a Department form, relator stated that he quit because he was elected to the school board and could no longer be employed by the school district. At the hearing, however, relator claimed that he quit his job because of his medical problems. He testified that he would have quit his job even if he had not won the election.

A reemployment insurance judge found that relator quit his job due to a serious illness and that he had made reasonable efforts to retain his job. On appeal, a Commissioner's representative reversed, finding that relator did not quit his job because of illness, but because he was elected to the school board.

D E C I S I O N

Initially, we note that the Commissioner's representative erred by considering relator's resignation letter, which had not been admitted into evidence. See Minn. Stat. 268.105, subd. 3 (Supp. 1995) (stating that the Commissioner's representative shall make a decision "on the basis of the evidence submitted at the hearing before the reemployment insurance judge"). But this error was harmless. The school district read into the record a portion of relator's letter, and relator testified about the contents of the letter. See Coleman v. Repro Printing, Inc., 374 N.W.2d 218, 220 (Minn. App. 1985) (affirming Commissioner's representative's decision based on two warning letters that had not been introduced into evidence, noting that testimony by two witnesses supported the Commissioner's representative's determination that the employee had received the letters); Harvey v. Griffin Real Estate, 394 N.W.2d 597, 599, n.1 (Minn. App. 1986) (indicating that although letter was not made a part of the record, testimony supported employee's claim regarding its contents).

An individual who voluntarily quits a job is ordinarily disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits. Minn. Stat.  268.09, subd. 1(a) (Supp. 1995). The legislature has provided an exception to disqualification where an individual's separation from employment was "due to personal, serious illness provided that such individual has made reasonable efforts to retain employment." Minn. Stat.  268.09, subd. 1(c)(2) (Supp. 1995).

The Commissioner's representative found that relator did not quit because of a serious illness, but because he was elected to the school board. "A Commissioner's representative's determination regarding the reason for an employee's separation is a factual determination." Embaby v. Department of Jobs & Training, 397 N.W.2d 609, 611 (Minn. App. 1986). When reviewing the Commissioner's representative's findings, we are limited to determining whether there is evidence reasonably tending to support those findings. White v. Metropolitan Medical Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). We review the factual findings of the Commissioner's representative, not those of the reemployment insurance judge, to determine whether there is reasonable evidence in the record to sustain the Commissioner's representative's decision. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995).

Contrary to the Commissioner's representative's finding, there is evidence in the record to support relator's claim that his physicians advised him to quit. Furthermore, the Commissioner's representative's finding that relator did not discuss his medical problems with his principal is weak. We also recognize that the Commissioner's representative did not exhibit a recognition of the fact that in some situations an individual may have more than one reason to quit a job. See Embaby, 397 N.W.2d at 611.

Despite these discrepancies, we defer to the Commissioner's representative's factual finding that relator quit because he was elected to the school board. This finding is supported by documentary evidence in the record. Relator's initial letter submitted to the Department stated that he quit because he was elected to the school board. See Ginsberg v. Minnesota Dep't of Jobs & Training, 481 N.W.2d 138, 143 (Minn. App. 1992), (stating that "Commissioner's representative may reject testimony by parties in favor of documentary evidence") review denied (Minn. April 9, 1992); Harringer v. AA Portable Truck & Trailer Repair, 379 N.W.2d 222, 224 (Minn. App. 1985) (concluding that evidence in employee's initial statement submitted to the Department, as opposed to testimony offered at the hearing, was sufficient to support Commissioner's representative's decision).

Affirmed.


Footnotes

     [1]Relator subsequently became employed, but his claim for benefits is based only on the time when he was unemployed.