may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Michael J. Ruhland,
Lakeville Growing Range,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed September 22, 1998
Department of Economic Security
File No. 10141 UC 97
Jacqueline R. Rolfs, Faegre & Benson, 2200 Norwest Ctr., 90 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent employer)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent commissioner)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
Michael Ruhland appeals his disqualification from receipt of reemployment insurance benefits, based upon the commissioner's representative's finding that Ruhland voluntarily quit without good cause attributable to the employer. Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1(a) (Supp. 1997). Because the evidence sustains the findings of the commissioner's representative, we affirm.
An employee is disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits if the employee voluntarily quits. Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1(a) (Supp. 1997). Whether an employee voluntarily quits employment is a question of fact for the commissioner's representative. Shanahan v. District Memorial Hosp., 495 N.W.2d 894, 896 (Minn. App. 1993). We review factual findings in the light most favorable to the decision and affirm if they are reasonably sustained by the evidence. Id.
Ruhland has worked for Bachman's, Inc. as a nurseryman since 1986, most recently at the Lakeville Growing Range, earning $13.30 per hour. Because the position of nurseryman is seasonal, Ruhland is subject to a winter lay-off and spring recall each year. During the lay-off season, there are temporary employment opportunities available, and in 1997, there were enough temporary jobs for all seasonal employees. Despite being allowed to choose among available jobs in order of his overall seniority, Ruhland chose not to accept work in favor of a lay-off. These undisputed facts sustain the decision of the commissioner's representative that Ruhland voluntarily quit his employment.
Ruhland argues that the decreased pay of the lay-off season jobs and the increased commute to those jobs constituted good cause for him to quit. An employee who voluntarily quits but alleges good cause attributable to the employer has the burden of proving good cause. Shanahan, 495 N.W.2d at 897. Good cause is a question of law determined de novo by this court. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989). "Good cause" is defined as a reason that is "(1) directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible; and (2) that is significant and would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit." Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 9 (Supp. 1997).
While wage reduction can be good cause, it alone is not determinative, especially if wages normally fluctuate and similar work at similar pay is not available. Wood v. Menard, Inc., 490 N.W.2d 441, 442 (Minn. App. 1992). Ruhland has not met his burden of proof by failing to show the availability of similar work at the prevailing wage. See Mastley v. Commissioner of Econ. Sec., 347 N.W.2d 515, 518-519 (Minn. App. 1984) (employee did not meet burden of proof where he failed to submit evidence of prevailing wage for similar work).
Additionally, Ruhland argues that had he properly understood the company recall policy, he would have chosen one of the jobs located near his usual job site. The commissioner's representative found that although Ruhland did misunderstand the policy, he took no steps to resolve the misunderstanding. Failure to understand terms of employment that are governed by a collective bargaining contract is not good cause attributable to the employer. Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 9 (Supp. 1997) (good reason must be directly related to employment and caused by employer).
Ruhland also challenges the exclusion of certain evidence. Generally, exclusion of evidence rests within the discretion of the factfinder and the party aggrieved by the ruling must show prejudicial error. See Uselman v. Uselman, 464 N.W.2d 130, 138 (Minn. 1990). Based on our review of the record, we observe no abuse of discretion, and will not disturb the evidentiary ruling.