STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Valleyview Health Care Center,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed April 6, 1999
Department of Economic Security
File No. 2686 UC 98
Gwendolyn Wood, 24675 Redwing Avenue, New Prague, MN 56071 (pro se relator)
Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Department of Economic Security)
Valleyview Health Care Center, 4061 West 173rd Street, Jordan, MN 55352 (respondent employer)
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
Relator argues that the commissioner's representative erroneously concluded she quit her employment without good cause. Relator resigned from her nursing position during a meeting with her employer to discuss her treatment of nursing home residents. We affirm.
On February 26, Valleyview's administrator, director of social services, and director of staffing, met with Wood to discuss an incident involving Wood and a mentally ill resident of the nursing home. The incident involved a situation where Wood allegedly made inappropriate comments to a resident. Wood then told the resident that she believed the resident's behavior was inappropriate and manipulative. The resident then called her own sister and had Wood speak with her. During the conversation, Wood informed the resident's sister that she did not believe the resident was getting adequate treatment at Valleyview and that perhaps the resident would be happier at another facility because she would be with residents closer to her age and she could receive more comprehensive treatment for her mental illness.
The three Valleyview administrators who met with Wood all testified that they had no intention of disciplining or discharging Wood and that the purpose of the meeting was to persuade Wood to change her attitude toward the treatment of this resident. According to the three administrators, at no time during the meeting was Wood told that she was being discharged or disciplined. After meeting for an hour, Wood stated that she resigned and left work. She did not report for subsequent shifts for which she had been scheduled.
Although not discussed at the meeting, Wood claims that the day before the meeting took place, she had requested a form to report unsafe staffing levels. Wood said the request was made because the evening shift the night before did not have the minimum number of staff personnel required by state law. Because the administration office never sent the form to her, Wood took a form entitled "Recommendation for Quality" to fill out at home. Wood never filed the form.
"[U]nless the claimant quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the employer," an employee who quits employment is disqualified from benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (1998). The employee has the burden of showing good reason to quit. Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978). This court must view the commissioner's representative's factual findings in the light most favorable to the decision, and they will not be disturbed if there is any evidence reasonably tending to sustain them. White v. Metropolitan Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). Whether an employee quit for good reason is a question of law that this court reviews de novo. Kehoe v. Minnesota Dep't of Econ. Sec., 568 N.W.2d 889, 890 (Minn. App. 1997).
A good reason caused by the employer for quitting is one:Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(1), (2) (1998).
(1) that is 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.
The tests for "good cause to quit" have been defined as:
[T]he circumstances which compel the decision to leave employment must be real, not imaginary, substantial not trifling, and reasonable, not whimsical; there must be some compulsion produced by extraneous and necessitous circumstances. The standard of what constitutes good cause is the standard of reasonableness as applied to the average man or woman, and not to the supersensitive.
Wood v. Menard, Inc., 490 N.W.2d 441, 443 (Minn. App. 1992) (quoting Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976) (quotation omitted)). An employee does not have good cause to quit when "'the average, reasonable person, when faced with a similar choice, would have chosen to remain employed.'" Cook v. Playworks, 541 N.W.2d 366, 369 (Minn. App. 1996) (quoting Dachel v. Ortho Met, Inc., 528 N.W.2d 268, 271 (Minn. App. 1995) (citation omitted)).
Here, the commissioner's representative found that Wood had not been discharged or given any disciplinary action during the meeting. The commissioner's representative found that she voluntarily resigned her position at Valleyview. The commissioner's representative determined that the Valleyview was simply attempting to address a complaint that it had received from a mentally ill resident regarding Wood's behavior toward that resident. According to the commissioner's representative, this was a reasonable action by Valleyview. The commissioner's representative found there was no good reason caused by Valleyview for Wood's resignation.
The record supports the conclusion that Wood resigned during the meeting with her supervisors and that she was not terminated. The three administrators testified that during the meeting Wood was never told she was being discharged. Wood also testified that when she asked whether she was being fired, the three Valleyview administrators stated "no." Importantly, Wood concedes this fact in her brief.
Wood insists that she was forced to resign because she reported staffing shortages. However, aside from Wood's statement that she called the administration office to request an unsafe staffing form, there is no evidence that Wood made a report of staffing shortages. Wood testified that she intended to complete a recommendation-for-quality form at home to document the staffing shortages, but admits that she did not follow through.
It is undisputed that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss Wood's treatment and attitude toward a particular mentally ill resident. Not once during the meeting was the issue of staffing shortages brought up. Because Wood had not reported any staffing shortages at the time of the meeting, Valleyview could not have retaliated against Wood. The administrators who met with Wood had no knowledge of her intended report. The record does not report a claim of retaliatory discharge.
There is sufficient evidence in the record to support the representative's findings of fact. The findings of fact support the conclusions of law.