This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed October 31, 2006
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Komo Machine, 11 Industrial Boulevard, Sauk Rapids, MN 55379 (respondent)
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 Worke, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge
Relator Kathryn Abfalter challenges the decision of the unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that she is disqualified from receiving benefits because she quit her employment without a good reason caused by the employer. Because the ULJ’s findings, inferences, conclusion, and decision are supported by substantial evidence, we affirm.
Relator worked as a shipping and receiving clerk for respondent Komo Machine from June 13, 2005, until September 23, 2005, when she quit her employment. On September 21, respondent’s human resources manager called relator into her office to discuss relator’s recent work injury and to address attendance issues. Relator had been absent from work a number of times due to personal reasons. The human resources manager expressed concern about possible future absences and referred relator to the employee assistance program. According to relator, the human resources manager told her that she could quit and reapply once she took care of her personal problems, or she would be fired. The human resources manager said she told relator that, if relator missed any more time from work, “she would face disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.” On September 23, relator did not come to work and informed the human resources manager that she had decided to quit.
The ULJ determined that relator quit her employment without good reason caused by the employer and was therefore disqualified from receiving benefits. Relator requested reconsideration of the decision, and the ULJ summarily affirmed.
An employee who quits
employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the
employee “quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the
employer.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095,
subd. 1(1) (Supp. 2005). Whether an employee
has good cause to quit is a question of law reviewed de novo. Peppi v. Phyllis Wheatley Cmty. Ctr.,
614 N.W.2d 750, 752 (
argues that her decision to quit was not voluntary because she would have been
fired eventually. But an employee who
leaves employment rather than facing termination or disciplinary action
voluntarily quits without good reason caused by the employer. Ramirez
v. Metro Waste Control Comm’n, 340 N.W.2d 355, 357-58 (
The record shows that the human resources manager referred relator to the employee assistance program. Further, relator testified that she believed she would be fired only if she had further absences. Relator’s decision to quit in order to avoid being fired is not a good reason caused by the employer.
also argues that the threat of future discharge was not her only reason for
quitting and urges this court to consider several other reasons why she quit
her employment. On certiorari review, we
review the ULJ’s decision to determine if it is supported by substantial
evidence in view of the entire record and if it is a correct application of the
Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (Supp. 2005). We
defer to the credibility determinations made by the agency’s factfinder. Munro
Holding, LLC v. Cook, 695 N.W.2d 379, 384 (
During the telephone hearing, the ULJ and relator had the following exchange about her reasons for quitting:
Q Ms. Abfalter . . . summarize for me your reason or reasons for quitting.
A With the options I was given to I did not really have any options. The writing was basically on the wall for me.
Q So you felt you were going to be discharged in the future is that what you think.
A Yes. I was told either . . .
Q We’re gonna get into that . . . but you quit because you thought you were gonna be discharged at some point in the future.
Q Any other reason for your quitting.
Later in the hearing, relator testified that the only issue that caused her to quit was the meeting she had with the human resources manager in which she gave relator the choice of quitting or getting fired. Despite relator’s contention that she had several other reasons for quitting, the record supports the ULJ’s determination that she quit in order to avoid future discharge and not for some other reason.
Relator nonetheless suggests her reason for quitting was medically necessary, because the working conditions were unsafe and because the employer refused to accommodate her disability. Although relator made references to her recent work injury at the hearing, she never told the ULJ that it was necessary for her to quit in order to avoid further injury. And, although she made a reference to “faulty equipment” at work, relator admitted to the ULJ that it was not a reason for her quitting. In fact, relator provided no evidence at the hearing that it was medically necessary for her to leave her employment.
Relator claims there were other factors which caused her to quit as well. She claims her employer did not give her proper guidance or communication while she was in training. She also claims she was harassed by coworkers for reporting an injury, which caused the employee bingo jackpot to be reduced from $250 to $25. Whether or not these factored into relator’s decision to quit was a factual determination for the ULJ, and the ULJ’s decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record.
the record does not support relator’s argument that the ULJ denied her a fair
opportunity at the hearing to fully explain her reasons for quitting her
employment. The rules governing the
conduct of hearings in unemployment compensation cases provide that the ULJ
“shall exercise control over the hearing procedure in a manner that protects
the parties’ rights to a fair hearing” and “shall ensure that relevant facts
are clearly and fully developed.”
The transcript of the hearing shows that the ULJ gave relator several opportunities to explain her reasons for quitting, yet she indicated that she had nothing further to say. For instance, at the close of her testimony when the ULJ asked relator if there was anything she wanted to add regarding her reasons for quitting that had not been covered, she replied, “No.” And the ULJ again gave both parties an opportunity to speak at the close of the hearing, and relator said nothing.
Though relator refers to instances during the hearing where she was cut off by the ULJ, a close reading of the transcript shows that, in these instances, the ULJ was excluding irrelevant and repetitious testimony and ensuring that the evidence was presented in an organized fashion.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
requested review of the ULJ’s decision under the former procedure in which a
senior unemployment review judge would conduct de novo review of a ULJ’s
decision following a request for consideration. Minn. Stat. § 268.105,
subd. 2 (2004). The legislature recently
amended this procedure. Now, following a
request for reconsideration, the ULJ who conducted the evidentiary hearing also
reconsiders that decision. Minn.