This opinion will be unpublished and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
John E. Mallo,
Detector Electronics, Corp.,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed July 2, 1996
Department of Economic Security
File No. 623UC95
John E. Mallo, 14000 Forest Hill Rd., Eden Prairie, MN 55346 (Pro Se)
Thomas E. Glennon, Glennon & Associates, P.A., 4700 Norwest Center, 90 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for Respondent Detector Electronics, Corp.)
Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Dept. of Economic Security, 390 N. Robert St., St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Davies, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Former employee appeals denial of reemployment insurance benefits. The Commissioner's representative held that the employee voluntarily resigned without good cause attributable to the employer. We affirm.
From July 13, 1981 to March 2, 1995, relator John E. Mallo worked as a material supervisor for respondent Detector Electronics Corporation (Detector). In February 1995, Detector temporarily needed someone to assume the responsibilities of shipping supervisor; Mallo was asked to assume these duties. He met with a corporate human resources representative but refused to take on the extra work. He described his past problems with his supervisor and made various complaints about Detector's management. Mallo did not request that his statements remain confidential.
The human resources representative reported the statements to Mallo's supervisor. At a meeting the following week, Mallo apologized to his supervisor. Mallo said he would understand if his supervisor could not work with him in the future and offered to resign. The supervisor asked Mallo how the issues could be resolved. Mallo responded that the company could not do anything--that it was up to Mallo himself to resolve the problems.
Shortly thereafter, Detector management told Mallo that it could offer certain economic benefits if he chose to resign. Mallo asked what would happen if he did not resign, and he was told that no decision had been made. On March 2, 1995, Mallo signed a separation agreement stating that he voluntarily resigned and accepted a severance package.
Thereafter, Mallo filed a claim for reemployment insurance benefits with the Minnesota Department of Economic Security. The Department initially denied the claim. After conducting an evidentiary hearing, a Department reemployment insurance judge reversed this denial. Detector then appealed to the Commissioner. The Commissioner's representative reversed the insurance judge. Mallo now appeals by writ of certiorari.
D E C I S I O N
Mallo contends that the Commissioner's representative erroneously reversed the reemployment judge's determination and improperly denied benefits. Our appellate standard is whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the Commissioner's findings, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the findings. Ress v. Abbott N.W. Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989). We review the decision of the Commissioner's representative, not that of the reemployment insurance judge. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995).
The Commissioner's representative found that Mallo voluntarily resigned without good cause attributable to Detector. A person who voluntarily quits a job without good cause attributable to the employer is disqualified from receiving benefits for a certain period of time. Minn. Stat. ' 268.09, subd. 1(a) (Supp. 1995). The employer has the burden of proving that an employee voluntarily quit. Marz v. Department of Employment Servs., 256 N.W.2d 287, 289 (Minn. 1977). Whether an employee quit or was discharged 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).
Once the employer proves that the employee voluntarily left employment, the burden shifts to the employee to show the existence of good cause attributable to the employer. Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978). The issue of good cause is a question of law. Dachel v. Ortho Met, Inc., 528 N.W.2d 268, 269 (Minn. App. 1995).
Mallo argues that Detector's actions show that he did not resign voluntarily. He was escorted to the door, taken off the computer system, and given a severance package--characteristic handling when employees are fired. At the evidentiary hearing, Detector admitted that this was not a typical resignation because severance pay is customarily only given to employees who are involuntarily discharged without cause. The involuntarily discharged employees, however, are not asked to sign a separation agreement and release as was Mallo. Mallo also claims that he was never told that he could continue working for Detector.
The Commissioner's representative's finding that Mallo voluntarily quit is supported by the record. Mallo, not Detector, initially broached the subject of resignation. He told his supervisor and the human resources representative that there was nothing Detector could do regarding his dissatisfaction with the company; he had to resolve those things himself. The separation agreement that he signed stated, "Employee and Employer agree that effective immediately, Employee has voluntarily resigned from employment," and, "Employee and Employer acknowledge that their waiver of rights and claims are knowing and voluntary." The agreement also stated that it was "freely entered into." Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the findings, the evidence is sufficient to support a finding that Mallo voluntarily quit.
The burden thereupon shifted to Mallo to show good cause attributable to Detector. 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 to the supersensitive.
Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976). An employee's dissatisfaction with his supervisor and working conditions does not constitute good cause to quit. Portz v. Pipestone Skelgas, 397 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1986); see also Rykus v. Nieuwsma Livestock Equip., 410 N.W.2d 380 (Minn. App. 1987) (irreconcilable differences with employer not good cause); Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass'n, 409 N.W.2d 23 (Minn. App. 1987) (personality conflict not good cause).
Mallo testified that he was not given timely performance reviews, his contributions to the company were not recognized, he was asked to take on additional responsibility without greater pay, he was not taken out for lunch for his ten-year anniversary, and he was denied a half-day off five years earlier. He also felt that there were unresolved differences between him and his supervisor. We conclude as a matter of law that Mallo failed to meet his burden of proving good cause attributable to his employer.