STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Roland Terry Foreman,
Atlas Temporaries, Inc.,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed February 9, 1999
Department of Economic Security
No. 2729 UC 98
Atlas Temporaries, Inc., 512 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (respondent)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent commissioner)
Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
Relator Roland (Terry) Foreman challenges both the decision of respondent Commissioner of Economic Security denying reemployment benefits and finding that Foreman, without good reason, quit jobs offered by his employer, respondent Atlas Temporaries, Inc. Because the record supports the commissioner's findings and because relator failed to establish that he was exempt from disqualification due to a serious illness, we affirm.
On March 27, 1998, the Department of Economic Security determined that Foreman was disqualified from receiving reemployment benefits. Foreman appealed that determination to a reemployment judge on May 1, 1998. At the hearing, the employer revealed that February 12 was not Foreman's last day of employment because he had worked for one additional day on March 3, 1998. The hearing judge then focused on the issue of Foreman's employment after March 3 and did not take further testimony on the issue of Foreman's failure to return to work at the plastics plant on February 12.
The hearing judge found that the March 3 job was for one day only and therefore Foreman had not refused suitable employment because none was offered. Without considering the February 12 incident, the hearing judge also found no overpayment due to Foreman's failure to return to work on February 12. The employer appealed the hearing judge's decision to the commissioner. The commissioner's representative reversed the hearing judge, finding that on both February 12 and March 4, Foreman quit employment without good cause. The commissioner's representative concluded that Foreman's decisions to cease employment disqualified him from benefits and resulted in an overpayment.
The [relator] quit a full-time packaging position on February 11, 1998. He told the employer that he was quitting due to medical problems. The claimant did have medical problems including hearing loss and varicose veins. But he did not provide the employer with medical documentation showing that he was unable to do the work. He had performed the job for four months.
Relator does not challenge the underlying facts but argues that his medical condition justified his decision to quit employment.
Generally, an employee who quits employment is disqualified from reemployment benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1. (1998). Nevertheless, an employee who quits because of a serious illness is not disqualified from benefits "provided that the claimant made reasonable efforts to remain in that employment in spite of the serious illness." Id., subd. 1(5). "[T]he Commissioner must determine what is reasonable for the particular employee under the circumstances of that case." Hirt v. Lakeland Bakeries, 348 N.W.2d 400, 401 (Minn. App. 1984) (citation omitted). The commissioner's representative "did not find that * * * [relator] quit due to a serious illness after making reasonable efforts to retain his employment."
The employee bears the burden of proving that a serious illness is sufficient to avoid disqualification. Minchew v. Minnesota Odd Fellows Home, 429 N.W.2d 702, 703 (Minn. App. 1988). While the record contains some documentation from 1996 of relator's medical condition, relator failed to provide current evidence that his medical condition necessitated quitting work. See Biegner v. Bloomington Chrysler/Plymouth, Inc., 426 N.W.2d 483, 486 (Minn. App. 1988) (holding serious illness did not excuse quitting employment where no evidence linked previous medical condition to employee's separation from employment).
Before quitting, an employee must make reasonable efforts to retain employment in spite of a serious illness. See Minchew, 429 N.W.2d at 704 (affirming commissioner's finding that employee made reasonable effort to retain employment when, before quitting, employee attempted to find another position in different department). The record supports the commissioner's representative's finding that relator was able to work at the plastics job for four months and then abruptly quit. Relator failed to establish that he informed Atlas, before quitting, that his medical condition was interfering with his work. Instead, the record supports the commissioner's representative's finding that relator failed to make reasonable efforts to retain his employment. See Lolling, 545 N.W.2d at 377 (commissioner's representative's findings affirmed if evidence can reasonably sustain them); Prescott v. Moorhead State Univ., 457 N.W.2d 270, 273 (Minn. App. 1990) (relator disqualified when he failed to inform employer of medical condition before resigning).
On March 3, 1998 [relator] * * * was assigned to a client company [Kwik File] * * * . This was an on-going assignment. * * * [Relator] worked only one day on the assignment, but did not return.
The record contains conflicting evidence about the March 3 Kwik File job, and relator argues that the commissioner's representative should have believed his version of the facts and found that the job was for one day only. Todd Thompson, the manager of the Atlas location where relator was employed, testified that the Kwik File job was an ongoing assignment but relator chose not to return to the job after one day. Relator testified that he was told by two Atlas employees that the March 3 job was for one day only and therefore he did not report back to work. Relator argues that, because Thompson recognized the names of the Atlas employees, relator's version of the facts should be believed. But the commissioner's representative's findings must be viewed in favor of the decision and affirmed if there is evidence in the record to sustain them. Lolling, 545 N.W.2d at 377. The employer's testimony supports the finding that relator refused an ongoing assignment without good cause and was therefore disqualified from benefits. See id.; Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1.