may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Nancy M. Dey,
County of Hennepin,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed January 14, 1997
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Department of Economic Security
File No. 824 UC 96
Paul H. Grinde, Ryan & Grinde, Ltd., Marketplace Center, Suite 219, P.O. Box 6667, Rochester, MN 55903 (for relator)
Sara E. Wahl, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, A-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent Hennepin County)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Minnesota Department of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Davies, Judge.
Susan Dey challenges the decision of the Commissioner's representative, contending she is entitled to reemployment benefits because Hennepin County (the County) was required to inform her that she was eligible for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Dey is disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits because there is evidence reasonably tending to sustain the Commissioner representative's finding that Dey voluntarily quit her job with the County without good cause attributable to the employer. We affirm.
The employee has the burden of proving he or she had good cause attributable to the employer to quit. Marz v. Department of Employment Servs., 256 N.W.2d 287, 289 (Minn. 1977). The question is whether the employee has left employment "due to factors or circumstances directly connected" with the employment. Helmin v. Griswold Ribbon & Typewriter, 345 N.W.2d 257, 261 (Minn. App. 1984), review denied (Minn. June 12, 1984). "Good cause" is a reason that is
"real, not imaginary, substantial not trifling, and reasonable, not whimsical; there must be some compulsion produced by extraneous and necessitous circumstances."
Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n. 5 (1976) (quoting 81 C.J.S. Social Security and Public Welfare § 167 (1976)).
Dey argues the County should have told her she was entitled to FMLA leave to care for her father. Dey's father was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and his doctor believed the symptoms had increased due to loneliness after his wife's August 1995, death. Before Dey quit, an employee services counsellor and her supervisor informed Dey she could either resign or take a leave of absence. In November 1995, Dey informed the County she was "resigning for family matters" because she had to "relocate to Rochester, MN and care for my Father."
The FMLA requires an employer to provide an employee up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave "[i]n order to care for the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent, of the employee, if such spouse, son, daughter, or parent has a serious health condition." 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1)(C) (1994). The Secretary of Labor promulgated regulations placing the burden on the employer to designate leave as FMLA-qualifying. 29 C.F.R. SSSS 825.208(a) (1996). "The employee need not expressly assert rights under the FMLA or even mention the FMLA, but may only state that leave is needed." 29 C.F.R. § 825.303(b); accord 29 C.F.R. SSSS 825.208(a)(2), 825.302(c). Nevertheless, "[a]n employee giving notice of the need for unpaid FMLA leave must explain the reasons for the needed leave so as to allow the employer to determine the leave qualifies under the Act." 29 C.F.R. § 825.208(a)(1); accord 29 C.F.R. § 825.302(c).
Dey cites Brannon v. Oshkosh B'Gosh, Inc., 897 F. Supp. 1028 (M.D. Tenn. 1995), to support her argument that the County had a duty to inquire whether she was qualified for leave under the FMLA. The employee there brought suit against her former employer under the FMLA after she was terminated for excessive absenteeism. Id. at 1030. On the first day her daughter was ill, the employee informed her supervisor she would have to miss the following work day if her daughter's health did not improve. Id. at 1032. Based on the doctor's advice, the employee remained home with her child for the next two work days and her husband gave the employer a note explaining she would be back after two days. Id. The Brannon court held because the claimant gave sufficient notice her absence was necessitated by an FMLA-qualifying reason, her absence from work was protected by the FMLA. Id. at 1039.
Dey contends the County had a duty to inquire further and notify her of her options under the FMLA after her November 1995, letter notified the County she needed to care for her father. We conclude Brannon is distinguishable and the County did not violate the FMLA because (1) the County informed Dey that a leave of absence was an option, (2) claimant's own testimony reflects that she chose not to explore this option, but rather chose to terminate her employment, (3) her letter of resignation did not state she desired a leave of absence, and (4) her letter did not state the duration of her move to Rochester for the purpose of notifying her employer that FMLA leave may have been appropriate. Dey did not meet her burden of proving she voluntarily quit her job with good cause attributable to the County. See Miller v. Minnetonka Health Care Ctr., Inc., 359 N.W.2d 684, (Minn. App. 1984) (where employee resigned, "apparently for personal reasons," the Commissioner's decision that the employee was disqualified from receiving benefits was affirmed).