This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




Lloyd E. Clark,



Malco Products, Inc.,


Commissioner of Economic Security,


Filed November 10, 1997


Huspeni, Judge

Department of Economic Security

File No. 6493UCOP96

Lloyd Clark, P. O. Box 418, Sturgis, SD 57785 (pro se relator)

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

Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.



Relator challenges the determination of respondent Commissioner of Economic Security that relator quit his job without good cause attributable to his employer and must repay benefits. Because ample evidence supports the findings on which the determination was based, we affirm.


Relator Lloyd Clark began working for respondent Malco Products, Inc., as a shipping clerk in 1989.[1] He rose from that position to a punch operator and then to a CAD operator, a level 6 position. In January 1996, Clark was asked to work in the Quality Assurance (QA) department. He began training and doing some of the work of a level 6 employee who had left the QA department.

On February 12, 1996, Clark wrote a one-sentence letter: "It is with regret that I must resign from Malco Products, Inc. effective [February] 23, 1996." Notes of his exit interview show Clark answering the question "What is your reason for leaving?" by stating "To return to school - saw CAD operator position as going away - only option was to step back - Lloyd has gone as far as he can go w/o a degree" and "How did you feel about your chances to get somewhere in the facility?" with "Very good--took 3 steps--can't take any more without educ." The exit interview notes reflect amicable relations between Clark and Malco, as does Malco's letter of reference, stating that Clark "has done a good job as CAD Drafter for the Engineering Department" and "has shown his versatility and experience by working in QA without an external training program."

In May 1996, Clark filed for reemployment insurance. He said he quit because he had been told by his supervisor that after the appraisal review scheduled for August 1996 his hourly pay would drop from $13.65 to $8 or $9 and that he had discussed the matter with the company president and the human resources department. He began receiving weekly benefits of $295 the week ending Saturday, June 1, 1996.

Malco wrote to the department protesting the charge to its account and attaching Clark's letter of resignation. Clark responded:

I quit my job because my position as CAD operator (level 6) within the Engineering Section was to be deleted. Malco offered me a job in the QA department (level 4). I found that I was unsuited for the type of work required in QA and I was not willing to take a 2 level drop in pay. I explained this to all my superiors, and each of them told me that they understood why I would have to quit.

Malco then provided the department with three documents. The first was a statement from Clark's manager that Clark had agreed to learn the basics and help out in the QA department because it was temporarily understaffed, that his transfer to QA was not a permanent move, that Clark had already expressed his intention to go to South Dakota to go to school, that the primary work for Clark's CAD job had been split among the remaining engineering staff, that the engineering department continued to help with QA, and that another engineer had been hired. The second document was a list of the position levels at Malco showing that both the CAD operator position Clark held and the QA coordinator II position he filled temporarily were level 6. The third document was Clark's file which contained no "Change of Staff" form to reflect a permanent transfer to another department. Clark responded on another form that he quit because of lack of work in his CAD operator position and that the comments made by Malco representatives were "simply not true."

Clark was notified that he was disqualified for benefits and appealed. The transcript of the telephone conference among a reemployment insurance judge, Clark, the Malco human relations manager, and Clark's manager in the Malco engineering department, shows that no one told Clark he was being or would be removed from a level 6 position. The reemployment insurance judge found that Clark had been performing level 6 work, that he had not been demoted, that his wage rate had not been decreased, and that he quit voluntarily without good cause attributable to his employer, and held that benefits paid to Clark were not to be charged to Malco's account.

Clark again appealed. The commissioner's representative found that neither Clark's opinion that he might be demoted in the future nor his change in job constituted good cause attributable to Malco for Clark to quit his job and held that Clark was disqualified for benefits, that he had been overpaid due to error, and that he had to repay the department.


Whether an employee quits without good cause attributable to the employer is a question of law. Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978). However, this court must defer to the factual findings of the commissioner's representative; they will not be disturbed if there is evidence reasonably tending to sustain them. White v. Metropolitan Medical Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983).

It is undisputed that Clark voluntarily quit his employment; he has the burden of showing that that he had good cause attributable to Malco. See Marz v. Department of Employment Serv., 256 N.W.2d 287, 289 (Minn. 1977). We conclude that Clark has not met this burden. For there to be "good cause attributable to the employer,"

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 Serv., 311 Minn. 34, 44, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976). Clark testified that his reason for quitting was his opinion that he would be demoted at his next review six months later. He also testified, however, that when he quit, he had not been demoted, his pay had not been cut, and no one had told him that either of these eventualities would or was likely to occur. His personal view that he would be given a lower level job was not real, nor was it reasonable within the analysis of Ferguson.

Clark declined to continue his employment even though he had the opportunity to do so. In the case of an employee who did not have this opportunity because the position had been eliminated, this court nonetheless declined to find good cause attributable to the employer because the employee had refused an interview for an equivalent position. See Shanahan v. District Memorial Hosp., 495 N.W.2d 894, 897 (Minn. App. 1993). Similarly, this court denied benefits to an employee who quit because she was required to transfer to an equivalent position and accept a slight pay cut. Bestler v. Travel Co., 398 N.W.2d 611 (Minn. App. 1986). The employee believed the new job "would be a step backwards in her career," id. at 612, but her employer said it "would have also required [the employee's] skill * * *." Id. at 614. She was found to have quit voluntarily without good cause attributable to her employer. Both Shanahan and Bestler support the denial of benefits to Clark.

There is evidence reasonably tending to support the commissioner's representative's findings that, despite Clark's belief to the contrary, "the employer had no plans to reduce the claimant's work level or his pay" and that "[t]he claimant was not demoted and his wage rate was not decreased." Concluding that Clark had quit without good cause attributable to Malco was not an error of law. Clark was overpaid reemployment insurance benefits, and the decision that he must repay those benefits was proper.


[1] Malco Products, Inc., is listed as a respondent, but takes no part in this appeal.