may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996)
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Olivia Anne Johnson,
Allied Interstate, Inc.,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed December 8, 1998
Department of Economic Security
Agency File No. 2955UC98
Olivia A. Johnson, P.O. Box 46357, Eden Prarie, MN 55344 (pro se relator)
Allied Interstate, Inc., c/o ADP-UCS, P. O. Box 6501-8501, Diamond Bar, CA 91765-8501 (respondent employer pro se)
Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent commissioner)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Mulally, Judge.[*]
In an appeal from the denial of reemployment insurance for failure to accept suitable employment, we affirm. The difficult circumstances confronting the employee do not alter the legal conclusion, supported by the factual record, that the employee did not have good cause to deny the employer's offer of suitable employment following a three-month leave.
Olivia Johnson worked at Allied Interstate as a medical claims collector for approximately eight months. Her last day of work was the day before she gave birth to her child. She notified Allied from the hospital of her intention to take a parenting leave, but no formal plan was put in writing. Allied sent Johnson two letters in March of 1998 explaining that under the Family Medical Leave Act, her parenting leave had expired. The March 27, 1998 letter offered to reinstate Johnson in the same or an equivalent job beginning April 2, 1998. The letter further stated that failure to report for work on that day would be deemed a voluntary termination.
Johnson does not dispute that she received the letter or that she failed to report for work. Johnson also does not dispute that she was physically able to work and that she was working part-time for another employer. Johnson maintains, however, that she had good cause to decline the offer because of circumstances involving her mother and her transportation to and from work. Johnson's mother, previously employed at Allied, was prohibited from entering Allied's property under a restraining order issued after several confrontations between Johnson's mother and Johnson's supervisor. Johnson, her child, and her mother, facing difficult financial circumstances, were living in Johnson's car. Johnson maintains that, because her mother would have violated the restraining order by being in the car, she was unable to drive to work. Relying on these reasons, Johnson appeals the determination that she did not have good cause to reject Allied's offer of employment.
A reemployment benefits claimant is disqualified if, without good cause, the claimant fails to accept suitable employment when offered, avoids an offer of suitable employment, or fails to apply for available or suitable employment. Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 14(a) (Supp. 1997). When the employer establishes that an offer has been made, the burden shifts to the employee to show good cause for rejecting the offer. Lewis v. Minneapolis Moline, Inc., 288 Minn. 432, 435-36, 181 N.W.2d 701, 704 (1970). On undisputed facts, whether a claimant's action or inaction is "without good cause" is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996) (reviewing courts defer to commissioner's representative's factual findings, but disqualification is ultimately question of law) (citation omitted).
Johnson asserts the commissioner's representative erred in concluding her reasons did not provide good cause to decline Allied's employment offer. First Johnson asserts that the commissioner's representative improperly reasoned that she could have taken a bus to work or walked from a drop-off point not restricted by her mother's restraining order. Johnson maintains Allied has no right to interfere with her civil liberty by dictating her method of transportation to work. We agree that Johnson is free to choose her transportation to the workplace. But a claimant's failure to secure transportation does not provide good cause to decline a job offer. Hill v. Contract Beverages, Inc., 307 Minn. 356, 358, 240 N.W.2d 314, 316 (Minn. 1976) ("transportation is usually considered the problem of the employee" and failure to reach job is not good cause to decline an employment offer). Even though Allied could not dictate the method of transportation, Johnson had the responsibility of arranging to arrive at the workplace in order to work.
Johnson's brief refers generally to other dissatisfactions with her working conditions, including the relationship between Allied and her mother. A generalized dissatisfaction with employment or a personality conflict with an employer does not provide good cause for termination of employment. Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass'n, 409 N.W.2d 23, 26 (Minn. App. 1987) (job dissatisfaction or personality conflict does not constitute good cause to quit).
The record supports the commissioner's representative's finding that Allied offered Johnson suitable employment. See Lolling, 545 N.W.2d at 377 (when employer extends offer for available job assignment, it is unnecessary to detail each term and condition). Johnson's failure to arrange for transportation to her place of employment, the conflict between her mother and her employer, and her general dissatisfaction with Allied's conduct do not constitute good cause to refuse an offer of employment. Johnson failed to meet her legal burden of establishing good cause for rejecting Allied's offer of reemployment.
[*]Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.