may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Loel F. Charles,
Minnesota Correctional Facility - Lino Lakes,
Ellis Island Hotel,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed March 2, 1999
Department of Economic Security
File Nos. 4738UC98 & 4739UC98
Minnesota Correctional Facility - Lino Lakes, Minnesota Department of Corrections, 7525 4th Avenue, Lino Lakes, MN 55014 (respondent/employer-pro se)
Ellis Island Hotel, 4178 Koval Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (respondent/employer-pro se)
Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (respondent-commissioner)
Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
Relator Loel F. Charles appeals from the Commissioner of Economic Security's denial of reemployment insurance benefits, arguing that he resigned for good reason attributable to his employers, Lino Lakes Correctional Facility and Ellis Island Casino. We affirm.
Relator was employed by the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Lino Lakes from July 1994 until August 5, 1997. He voluntarily resigned his position stating that he had decided to pursue other career goals, and he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. Apparently relator had been involved in a car accident in 1996 and was experiencing problems with his left knee. However, he did not state that as a reason for leaving his employment in his resignation letter to Lino Lakes.
On September 9, 1997, relator became employed as a security officer with Ellis Island Casino in Nevada. He voluntarily resigned that position on September 14, 1997. Apparently his wife was offered a job paying twice what he was earning at Ellis Island, and, because the couple had two small children at home, he decided to resign Ellis Island to stay home with the children. Upon leaving the Ellis Island employment, relator did not indicate that his knee condition was the reason for resigning.
In June 1998, relator filed for reemployment insurance benefits for both employments. He stated on his separation statement respecting Lino Lakes that he
quit to relocate out of state and because my left knee needed surgery and I wanted to get it repaired so I could continue to work in prison without a problem.
On his separation statement respecting Ellis Island he stated that he quit
because my wife got a job with benefits working same hours and my job didnt have benefits. Also because we have 2 kids age 1 and 6 so I needed to keep them.
Relator was denied reemployment insurance benefits after it was determined that his reasons for leaving his respective employments were not attributable to the employers. He appealed his disqualification to a reemployment judge. After an evidentiary hearing, the reemployment judge affirmed the disqualification and found that relator did not quit his employments because of a good reason attributable to either employer.
Relator appealed to the commissioner of economic security. A representative of the commissioner affirmed the reemployment insurance judge's decisions. With regard to relator's Ellis Island claim, the representative specifically stated that "[w]e simply do not accept the [relator's] contention that he quit this employment because of knee problems." The representative found that relator quit that employment in order to stay home and take care of his children. Accordingly, the representative found that relator did not have a good reason attributable to the employer for quitting nor did he quit that employment because of a serious illness.
As for relator's Lino Lakes claim, the commissioner's representative found that he could have stayed with Lino Lakes, taken a leave of absence and had surgery on his knee, and still be employed as a corrections officer in Minnesota. Instead, he chose to quit and relocate to Las Vegas. The representative found, therefore, that relator quit his employment in order to relocate to Las Vegas. Because relator's termination was not the result of a serious illness or because of good reason attributable to the employer, the representative disqualified him from reemployment insurance benefits.
An employee who voluntarily quits without good reason attributable to his employer is temporarily disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (1998) (changing language of statute from "good cause" to "good reason"). The employee is exempt from disqualification, however, if he quit as a result of a serious illness and he made reasonable efforts to retain his employment. Id., subd. 1(6) (1998). An employee who quits because of serious illness has the burden of proving that the serious illness exception to disqualification applies to him. Minchew v. Minnesota Odd Fellows Home, 429 N.W.2d 702, 703 (Minn. App. 1988).
In determining what constitutes a reasonable effort to retain employment, the commissioner must consider what is reasonable for the particular employee under the circumstances of the case. Hirt v. Lakeland Bakeries, 348 N.W.2d 400, 401 (Minn. App. 1984). On appeal, the commissioner's findings must be reviewed in the light most favorable to the decision and must be upheld unless they are clearly erroneous. Id. at 401-02.
Relator appears to assert that the serious illness exception applies to his claim because: (1) he suffered from knee pain, (2) he told his immediate supervisor about the physical problems he was having, (3) he contacted doctors regarding his knee pain, and (4) he submitted a doctor's report to the commissioner's representative confirming his knee problems. However, the record does not state whether relator provided that report to Lino Lakes prior to his resignation. Although relator may have seen doctors over the years regarding his knee pain, it does not appear that he consulted a doctor regarding possible work restrictions. Therefore, he gave his employer no opportunity to consider accommodation of his knee problem. See Prescott v. Moorhead State Univ., 457 N.W.2d 270, 273 (Minn. App. 1990) (affirming commissioner's representative's finding that serious illness exception was inapplicable because relator failed to take appropriate steps to apprise employer of problems before resigning). The commissioner's representative's determination that the serious illness exception does not apply to relator's claim is supported by the evidence.
In addition, it appears that relator challenges the commissioner's representative's determination that he did not make reasonable efforts to retain his employment. The evidence indicated that, although relator had previously requested and received accommodation for his knee condition from Lino Lakes, (e.g. days off), at the time of his resignation he neither informed his employer that his knee problem was his reason for resigning nor made any other effort to retain his employment. Relator simply stated that he was quitting to pursue other career goals.
As for relator's claim that the serious illness exception applies to his Ellis Island employment, he fails to offer any proof that his resignation was a result of his medical condition. In fact, the evidence offered clearly shows that at the time relator resigned at Ellis Island he stated it was because his wife got a better paying job with benefits and he needed to stay home to take care of the children.
Relator has not met his burden of proving that his knee problems qualify for the serious illness exception. Reviewing the record in the light most favorable to the decision, the commissioner's decision to deny reemployment benefits was not clearly erroneous.