This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Alice A. Moore,
Second Harvest St. Paul Food Bank,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed January 26, 2004
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 12463 02
Mark A. Greenman, Ruth Y. Ostrom, Greenman & Ostrom, 270 Grain Exchange North, 301 Fourth Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for relator)
Second Harvest St. Paul Food Bank, 1140 Gervais Avenue, Maplewood, MN 55109 (respondent)
Katrina Gulstad, Lee B. Nelson, Philip B. Byrne, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 390 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Anderson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Relator appeals from the determination by the representative of the Commissioner of Economic Security that she is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she quit her job without good reason caused by her employer. Because the record reasonably supports the commissioner’s representative’s determination, we affirm.
Relator Alice Moore began working as an accounting supervisor at Second Harvest St. Paul Food Bank in November 1999. Her job duties included data-entry work. On May 17 and May 31, 2002, Moore consulted a doctor about a pain in her arm; the doctor suspected that Moore suffered from extensor tendonitis and recommended physical therapy and a decrease in data-entry activity. Moore arranged for an initial physical therapy visit on Tuesday, June 4.
Moore arrived at work on Monday, June 3, at approximately 7:00 a.m. Moore testified that: (1) that morning she twice asked her supervisor, Debra Stockhill, for time off that week to rest her arm and to visit her physical therapist, and both times Stockhill denied her requests; (2) Stockhill also told her that worker’s compensation would not cover the medical care for her arm pain; (3) after Stockhill denied Moore’s time-off requests and told her that her worker’s-compensation claim would not be paid, Moore went to Stockhill’s office, set her timesheet on the desk, and informed Stockhill that she was leaving for the day because she was sick; (4) Stockhill asked her for the keys to her files and the password to her computer, which Moore provided; (5) Moore gathered some personal belongings from her desk and went home; (6) later that afternoon Moore saw a job listing posted on the Internet by Second Harvest that matched her job description; and (7) Moore did not attempt to contact Second Harvest concerning her employment status, assuming, based on the job posting and the fact that Stockhill had requested her password and file keys, that she had been discharged from her position.
Second Harvest’s witnesses, Stockhill and Kathleen Thalhuber, Second Harvest’s director of human resources, gave a different account of the events of the morning of June 3, 2002. According to their testimony: (1) Moore, Stockhill, and Thalhuber met to discuss Moore’s concerns over a worker’s-compensation claim that Moore mistakenly believed Stockhill had denied; (2) Stockhill and Thalhuber attempted to explain to Moore that the claim needed to be submitted to Second Harvest’s insurer, who would make the payment decision; (3) Moore then stated that she wanted to work only half-days that week because of her arm pain and that she wanted to take vacation time all of the next week; (4) Stockhill explained that Moore could take off the time she needed for medical care, but Stockhill denied the request for vacation time; (5) Moore said that if she could not have the time off she would “pack her things” and leave; (6) later Moore came to Stockhill’s office and handed in her timesheet; (7) Stockhill asked Moore for her computer password, which Moore provided; (8) Moore returned to her desk and packed some personal belongings in a box, gave her office keys to a co-worker, and left the building; (9) two days later, when Thalhuber and Stockhill had not heard from Moore, they assumed that she had quit, and they posted a job listing for Moore’s position on the Internet; (10) the job listing Moore saw on June 3 was for the position of a co-worker who was scheduled to go on maternity leave; and (11) according to notes taken by Thalhuber the morning of June 3, another employee informed her that, as Moore passed through the reception area on her way out, Moore announced that she was quitting because Stockhill had denied her vacation request.
The parties agree that no representative of Second Harvest ever told Moore that she had been discharged. The Department of Economic Security initially determined that Moore had quit without good reason caused by her employer and denied her application for unemployment benefits. Moore appealed the department’s decision, and an unemployment-law judge (ULJ) determined that Second Harvest had discharged Moore for reasons other than employment misconduct and ruled that Moore was eligible for benefits. Second Harvest appealed the ULJ’s decision, and a representative of the Commissioner of the Department of Economic Security determined that Moore had quit her position and reversed the ULJ’s determination. This certiorari appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
The question on appeal is whether Moore quit without good reason caused by Second Harvest or was discharged from her position. An employee who quits without good reason caused by the employer is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2002). “Whether an employee has been discharged or voluntarily quit is a question of fact.” Midland Elec., Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 812 (Minn. App. 1985). “A discharge from employment occurs when any words or actions by an employer would lead a reasonable employee to believe that the employer will no longer allow the employee to work for the employer in any capacity.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 5(a) (2002). A quit occurs when the decision to end the employment was, at the time the employment ended, the employee’s. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 2(a) (2002). We review the commissioner’s representative’s factual findings in the light most favorable to his decision and will not disturb them as long as there is evidence that reasonably tends to sustain the findings. Schmidgall v. Filmtec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002). Decisions of the commissioner’s representative are accorded “particular deference.” Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995).
Moore argues that the commissioner’s representative’s decision is not reasonably supported by the record because, by requesting her file keys and computer password and posting her job on the Internet on June 3, Second Harvest made it clear that she would no longer be allowed to work there in any capacity.
The commissioner’s representative found that there was “some evidence in the record that (Stockhill) asked (Moore) for her keys.” He made no finding concerning Stockhill’s request for Moore’s password, but Stockhill admitted she asked for the password after Moore said that she was leaving. The commissioner’s representative also found that Moore left work on June 3 and that at some “later” time she saw a job posted by Second Harvest on the Internet that she thought was for her position. These findings are reasonably supported by the record.
Additionally, the commissioner’s representative found that, after gathering her personal belongings, turning in her timesheet, and telling Stockhill that she was leaving because she was sick, Moore did not return to work and did not speak with anyone at Second Harvest concerning her employment status. Moreover, he found that Moore “was never told by (Second Harvest) that she was being discharged” and that “[t]here was evidence in the record that (Moore) informed a representative of (Second Harvest) that she was quitting.” The record reasonably sustains these findings. The commissioner’s representative concluded that “(Moore) made the choice, when the employment ended – she could have returned to work and continued working indefinitely.”
Because the record reasonably supports the commissioner’s representative’s decision that Moore voluntarily quit when she left work early on June 3, 2002, we affirm his decision.