This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






Joseph J. Oliver,





Sather Trucking Company, Inc.,



Department of Employment and Economic Development,



Filed August 1, 2006


Parker, Judge*


Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 567105


Joseph J. Oliver, 12416 Orion Street, Victorville, CA 92392 (pro se relator)


Sather Trucking Company, Inc., One Sather Plaza, P.O. Box 28, Round Lake, MN 56167 (respondent employer)


Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent Department)


            Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Parker, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Relator challenges the senior unemployment review judge’s (SURJ) determination that he quit his employment with respondent without good reason caused by his employer.  Because the SURJ’s findings are based in the record and support the conclusion that relator is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, we affirm.


Relator Joseph J. Oliver worked as an over-the-road truck driver for respondent Sather Trucking Company, Inc. from September 1998 to March 2005.  While relator lived in California, respondent Sather Trucking is based in Minnesota.  Although relator thought that there had been a problem with his assignments “for some time,” he testified that they got worse in September 2004.  He complained to the dispatcher, Bob Widman, and talked to his immediate supervisor, Roland Lee, about them.  On Friday, March 4, 2005, relator felt that “enough was enough”; he returned from a job, refused the next assignment from Widman to Oklahoma, and told Lee that he quit.  After talking to Lee, though, they decided that he should stay on until Monday, March 7, to talk to the general manager, Scott Goesch.  Lee suggested that relator go to human resources, and Lee would talk to Goesch.

When relator came in for the March 7 meeting with Goesch, Lee told him not to expect much.   Relator asked Goesch to get him a new dispatcher because he felt Widman was favoring other drivers, but Goesch said he could not do that.   Even though Goesch said he did not want relator to quit, relator thought Goesch was not going to do anything, so he quit.

Respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development initially determined that relator was disqualified from receiving benefits because relator quit without good reason caused by the employer.  He appealed and a hearing was held before the unemployment law judge (ULJ).  The ULJ found the situation was not so egregious or adverse that an average, reasonable employee would quit, and the SURJ independently agreed.  Relator filed this certiorari appeal.


This court reviews the findings of the SURJ rather than those of the ULJ.  Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995).  Whether an employee has a good cause to quit is a question of law, which we review de novo.  Peppi v. Phyllis Wheatley Cmty. Ctr., 614 N.W.2d 750, 752 (Minn. App. 2000).

Relator quit his job as an over-the-road truck driver because he felt the dispatcher was favoring other drivers.  An employee who quits employment is disqualified from receiving benefits unless it falls within a statutory exception.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (2004).  To qualify for benefits, relator must show that he had a good reason caused by the employer for quitting that was (1) directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible, (2) adverse to the employee, and (3) would compel an average, reasonable employee to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.  See id., subd. 3(a) (2004).

The SURJ found that relator’s miles were “comparable” to those of other full-time drivers and that relator’s assignments to California were “less frequent” than other drivers for the six months about which he complained.  These findings have a substantial basis in the record.  Sather’s documents indicate that the 45 full-time drivers traveled 56,226 average miles for September through February, and relator came in just below the average at 53,535 miles.  Relator was paid $.40 per mile and $25 per stop.  His four trips to California were below the average of 5.88 per driver, but the range was 1 to 15 trips for the 45 full-time drivers who drove to California.

Relator claimed that Widman gave him “garbage loads,” and Widman’s friends got the better, high-mileage trips to California.  Although Widman apparently used a first-in, first-out system, there is no documentation supporting relator’s claim that he was available but was passed by for these trips.  Relator testified that Lee agreed that Widman favored other drivers, but Lee did not appear or testify at the hearing.

The issue then is whether these work conditions “would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a)(3) (2004).  We consider whether “the employer made unreasonable demands of [the] employee that no one person could be expected to meet.”  Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978) (holding that applicant had good reason to quit when employer more than doubled his workload over two years of employment); see also Porrazzo v. Nabisco, Inc., 360 N.W.2d 662, 663 (Minn. App. 1985) (concluding applicant quit after experiencing an increase in work responsibilities, which mandated overtime hours for which he was not adequately compensated).  The analysis is conducted on the specific facts of each case.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(b) (2004).

Because relator was not treated in a manner significantly different from the average employee and the record does not demonstrate a substantial decrease in his compensation, there is no basis justifying a quit for good reason caused by the employer.  Although we understand that relator was particularly interested in receiving dispatches home to California, there is no evidence of a company policy requiring equal or comparable assignments to California or a showing that the uneven assignments were not legitimately based on jobs available at the time.  Accordingly, the record supports the SURJ’s finding that an average, reasonable employee would not have been compelled to quit under these circumstances.

Relator’s testimony also supports the SURJ’s finding that relator had a personality conflict with the dispatcher.  Irreconcilable differences with one’s employer or frustration and dissatisfaction with one’s working conditions, however, are not good reasons to quit.  Portz v. Pipestone Skelgas, 397 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1986). 


* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.