This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Laura M. Rice,
Southeast Minnesota Private
Industry Council, Inc.,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed December 7, 1999
Department of Economic Security
Agency File No. 91UC99
Laura M. Rice, 52 Township Road 141, Kellogg, MN 55945 (relator pro se)
Kent E. Todd, Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Southeast Minnesota Private Industry Council, 300-11th Avenue Northeast, Rochester, MN 55901 (respondent employer)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Amundson, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator challenges the determination that she quit her job without a good reason caused by her employer, arguing that she had good reason to quit. Because the evidence supports the determination that relator quit without a good reason caused by her employer, we affirm.
In March 1998, relator Laura M. Rice began to work for respondent Southeast Minnesota Private Industry Council (SEMPIC) as a coordinator in its Youthbuild Program. SEMPIC operates a variety of job training programs, including teaching construction skills to at-risk youth. As a coordinator, relatorís duties included working with youth on construction projects and managing paperwork.
On November 4, 1998, relator began the project of remodeling a house and building a garage with four youths. Difficulties in hiring a carpentry instructor delayed the project and reduced relatorís hours below the 32 hours per week she and SEMPIC had agreed upon. SEMPIC allowed relator to use annual leave and do additional paperwork to make up for her reduced hours of work. SEMPIC also asked relator to work on another program, but she refused.
On December 10, 1998, relator quit her SEMPIC job and filed a claim for reemployment insurance with the Department of Economic Security. The department disqualified her from benefits, finding that she quit without a good reason caused by SEMPIC.
In April 1999, the reemployment insurance judge affirmed the decision that relator quit without a good reason caused by her employer and the commissionerís representative affirmed the judgeís decision. In July 1999, relator appealed by certiorari from this court.
D E C I S I O N
The findings of the commissionerís representative must "be viewed in the light most favorable to the decision, and if there is evidence reasonably tending to sustain them, they will not be disturbed." White v. Metropolitan Medical Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). An employee who quits shall be disqualified from reemployment benefits unless the employee quit for a good reason caused by the employer. Minn. Stat. ß 268.095, subd. 1 (1998). A good reason is one
(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.
Minn. Stat. ß 268.095, subd. 3 (1998).
Whether a person had good reason to quit is a question of law that "is not binding on this court if it does not have reasonable support in the findings." Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978). "Good cause" to quit has been defined as a reason that is "real, not imaginary, substantial not trifling, and reasonable, not whimsical." Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976) (citation omitted). In determining good cause, the standard is "reasonableness as applied to the average man or woman, and not to the supersensitive." Id.
Relator contends that the commissionerís representative erred in determining that she did not have good reason to quit caused by SEMPIC. She advances three arguments in support of her position.
First, she claims that a substantial reduction in work hours forced her to quit. But the commissionerís representative found that
[t]here is evidence that the [relator] was working approximately 20 hours on the project but she was also allowed by the employer to utilize leave time to make up for additional hours. The evidence also shows that the employer offered the [relator] additional work doing paperwork, which the [relator] rejected and also offered the [relator] an opportunity to work on another project, which the [relator] also rejected.
Relator also argues that she was constructively discharged. We have previously held, however, that termination of a position, combined with the opportunity to interview for an equivalent position, is not constructive discharge and does not give an employee good cause to quit. Shanahan v. District Memíl Hosp., 495 N.W.2d 894, 897 (Minn. App. 1993). The decision of the commissionerís representative is reasonably supported because relator was offered an equivalent position.
Second, relator argues that the job was unsafe due to inadequate lighting, heating, ventilation, and equipment. In cases involving safety, we examine whether the employeeís concerns were reasonable at the time of quitting, regardless of whether the equipment was in fact safe. Haskins v. Choice Auto Rental, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 507, 511 (Minn. App. 1997). The commissionerís representative determined that the relator failed to establish
that the employer was unreasonable or violated any duty which it owed to the [relator] as an employee or that the [relator] was required to work in a dangerous situation.
Additionally, SEMPIC "offered the [relator] an opportunity to work on another project, which the [relator] also rejected." By offering work on another project, SEMPIC addressed relatorís safety concerns; thus, safety was not a reasonable ground for quitting.
Finally, relator argues that the lack of stability of the program forced her to quit; she claimed that the "Youthbuild [Program] has always been a very unstable program." But good cause to quit is not established when an employee has irreconcilable differences with her employer or with others at work or when an employee is "simply frustrated or dissatisfied with his working conditions." Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Assín, 409 N.W.2d 23, 26 (Minn. App. 1987) (quoting Portz v. Pipestone Skelgas, 397 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1986) (citations omitted)). The commissionerís representative held that the average reasonable employee would not have quit for this reason and the record reasonably supports that conclusion.