Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
Northwoods Steak Buffet,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Department of Economic Security
File No. 5286UC97
Northwoods Steak Buffet, Northwoods Steak LLC, 2085 Northdale Boulevard Northwest, Coon Rapids, MN 55433 (respondent employer)
Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent commissioner)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Mansur, Judge.*
*Retired judge of the District Court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator William F. Herdzina appeals by writ of certiorari from a denial of reemployment insurance benefits, challenging the commissioner's representative's decision that he voluntarily quit his job without good cause attributable to his employer. We affirm.
Relator worked as a supervisor for the Northwoods Steak Buffet. In April 1997, after becoming aware of financial problems and employee dissatisfaction at one of the restaurant's relator was managing, as well as relator's own statements to the board that he was dissatified with how the board was operating the business, the board of directors asked relator to voluntarily resign. Relator refused to resign. The board then removed relator from his supervisory and board positions and offered him a position as a marketing supervisor. In the new position, relator's salary would have remained the same, but his responsibilities would have been more limited and he would no longer have had office space in any of the restaurants. Viewing this position as a demotion, relator refused to accept it and resigned.
A claims representative held that relator was disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits because he voluntarily quit without good cause attributable to his employer. A reemployment insurance judge reversed the claims representative's decision, concluding that he resigned with good cause. Northwoods appealed to the commissioner, who reversed the insurance judge's decision. This certiorari appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
On appeal, this court views the commissioner's representative's factual findings in the light most favorable to the decision and will not disturb them if there is evidence in the record reasonably tending to sustain the decision. White v. Metropolitan Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983).
A claimant who voluntarily quits a job "without good cause attributable to the employer" is disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1(a) (1996). "Good cause" is a reason that is substantial, reasonable, and compelling, not imaginary, trifling, or whimsical. Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976). Whether there is good cause to quit is a question of law that we review de novo. Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978). Because relator voluntarily quit his job, he has the burden of proving good cause to resign that is attributable to Northwoods. See id.
Relator argues that he refused to take the marketing position because it would be "demeaning," thus implying that it was a demotion. In determining whether an employee had good cause to quit because of a demotion, the commissioner should consider the following: "loss of wages, the extent of the change of job duties, the reasonable career expectancies of the employee because of tenure with this or other employers, and the employee's remaining chances for advancement after the demotion." Cook v. Playworks, 541 N.W.2d 366, 369 (Minn. App. 1996).
In this case, the commissioner's representative undertook the Cook analysis, finding that although there would be a substantial change in relator's job duties, relator did have marketing experience, and would retain the same salary. The representative concluded that the job change was justified based on relator's dissatisfaction and lack of cooperation with the board. See Dachel v. Ortho Met, Inc., 528 N.W.2d 268, 271 (Minn. App. 1995) (holding that "relator did not have good cause to quit his job when he was demoted due to inadequate job performance").
Relator freely admits his conflict with the board and does not dispute that the board was dissatisfied with his job performance. See Portz v. Pipestone Skelgas, 397 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1986) (holding that "a poor relationship with a supervisor" is not good cause to quit). Relator has failed to show that the demotion was unreasonable based on these circumstances. Thus, we agree with the representative's conclusion that relator did not have good cause to quit.
Relator further contends that the marketing supervisor position was a sham. He argues in his brief that the board merely offered him the position to avoid a lawsuit and further claims that the business does not have the assets to fund the position. But relator has failed to point to any facts in the record to support these allegations. Without real proof that the marketing position was in fact a "sham," relator has failed to show good cause for resigning. See Schoepke v. Alexander Smith & Sons Carpet Co., 290 Minn. 518, 519-20, 187 N.W.2d 133, 135 (1971) (assignment of error on appeal based on "mere assertion" and not supported by argument or authority is waived unless error is obvious).
Respondent observes that relator made references in his informal brief to facts outside the record, such as his remarks concerning the undercapitalization of the business. This court has examined those comments and disregarded them. See AFSCME, Council No. 14 v. Scott County, 530 N.W.2d 218, 222-23 (Minn. App. 1995) (court may selectively disregard improper references to evidence outside the record without striking the entire brief), review denied (Minn. May 16, 1995 & June 14, 1995).