This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




Patrick W. Finn,



Leech Lake Reservation,


Commissioner of Economic Security,


Filed July 15, 1997


Willis, Judge

Department of Economic Security

File No. 8537UC96

Patrick W. Finn, P.O. Box 915, Cass Lake, MN 56633 (Pro Se Relator)

Leech Lake Reservation, Route 3, Box 100, Cass Lake, MN 56633 (Respondent)

Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)

Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Willis, Judge.



Appellant Patrick W. Finn challenges the Commissioner's representative's decision that Finn quit without good cause attributable to his employer and that the serious illness exception does not apply. We affirm.


From December 1994 until August 1996 Finn was employed as a business manager for the Leech Lake Reservation (Reservation), which required that he travel among four businesses. Finn had an accident in 1984, which has caused him to have back pain that is exacerbated by non-sedentary work.

Finn submitted a letter of resignation on April 22, 1996, stating that he was quitting because of Reservation policies that made it impossible for him to make the businesses profitable. He further stated that (1) he hoped to be given a pay raise retroactively and (2) due to his deteriorating back condition, he was unable to "keep up the pace" of his job mentally and physically. Finn's last day of work was August 30, 1996.

Finn applied for reemployment insurance benefits. Stating that Finn voluntarily quit, the Minnesota Department of Economic Security (department) found him disqualified for benefits on the ground that he did not quit for good cause attributable to his employer, concluding rather that he quit

due to frustration with the way his employer operated the business. He was not promised a raise. A raise in pay is granted based on profitability of the business. He has not shown the conditions of work were so onerous that he was compelled to quit. Cause attributable to the employer has not been established.

The department's decision was affirmed by a reemployment insurance judge. On review, the Commissioner's representative concluded that (1) Finn was disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits because he quit his employment without good cause attributable to his employer and (2) because Finn did not consult with a doctor before quitting, the serious illness exception to disqualification did not apply. The matter is before this court by writ of certiorari.



A district court's determination of whether an employee had good cause to quit is a conclusion of law and is not binding on this court. Porazzo v. Nabisco, Inc., 360 N.W.2d 662, 664 (Minn. App. 1985). Good cause is defined as a reason that is substantial, reasonable, and compelling, not imaginary, trifling, or whimsical. Ferguson v. Department of Employment Servs., 311 Minn. 34, 44 n.5, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900 n.5 (1976).

Finn contends that he quit for good cause attributable to his employer because (1) he "was promised [a] raise based on comparative profit and loss statements," but he received no raise, (2) his "managerial duties were stripped from [him,]" and (3) he "was being made to look incompetent in [his] position and being judged * * * by profit and loss which [he] had no control over." The Commissioner's representative concluded that (1) "[f]ailure to be granted a discretionary raise is not good cause attributable to the employer" and (2) Finn quit "because of frustrations regarding the operation of the business" that did not constitute good cause.

We agree with the Commissioner's representative that an employer's failure to give an employee a discretionary raise is not good cause attributable to the employer for the employee to quit. Finn admitted that his pay increase was dependent on the profitability of the businesses he ran. Because those businesses were not profitable, Finn had no reasonable expectation of a raise.

Finn raises for the first time on this appeal the issue of having his managerial duties taken from him. We will not address on appeal an issue that was not before the Commissioner's representative. Imprint Technologies, Inc. v. Commissioner of Economic Sec., 535 N.W.2d 372, 378 (Minn. App. 1995).

Finally, we conclude that Finn's perception that he was being made to look incompetent by the business decisions he was forced to make amounts to irreconcilable differences between him and his employer. This court has determined that irreconcilable differences between an employer and employee are not "good cause." Ryks v. Nieuwsma Livestock Equip., 410 N.W.2d 380, 382 (Minn. App. 1987). We conclude the Commissioner's representative did not abuse his discretion in determining that Finn did not quit for good cause attributable to his employer.


Minn. Stat. § 268.09 (1996) provides that a claimant who quits his or her job voluntarily and without good cause attributable to the employer is disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits unless an exception applies, such as if

the claimant is separated from employment due to personal, serious illness provided that the claimant made reasonable efforts to retain employment.

Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1(c)(2) (1996). An employee who asserts the serious illness exception has the burden of proving that the exception applies in the employee's situation. Minchew v. Minnesota Odd Fellows Home, 429 N.W.2d 702, 703 (Minn. App. 1988). This court stated in Hirt v. Lakeland Bakeries, 348 N.W.2d 400, 401-02 (Minn. App. 1984), that

[i]n determining what is a reasonable effort to retain employment, the Commissioner must determine what is reasonable for the particular employee under the circumstances of that case. * * * The findings of the Commissioner must be reviewed in the light most favorable to the decision and are not to be disturbed if there is evidence reasonably tending to support them.

Id. at 401-02.

Finn asserts that the serious illness exception applies to his claim because: (1) he suffered from severe back pain, (2) he told his immediate supervisor about the physical problems he was having, (3) he contacted doctors regarding his back pain, and (4) he obtained a recommended work restriction on September 30, 1996, one month after he quit. However, the Commissioner's representative stated that "[c]onsulting a physician prior to quitting is a minimum reasonable effort that can be expected from a worker who seeks to retain employment" and concluded that Finn had not made such reasonable efforts. We agree. Although Finn may have seen doctors over the years regarding his back pain, he did not consult a doctor regarding possible work restrictions until after he quit his job. Precisely one month after Finn's last day of work for the Reservation, his doctor, for the first time, recommended that Finn be restricted to sedentary work. Finn, therefore, gave his employer no opportunity to consider accommodation of his back problem. See Prescott v. Moorhead State Univ., 457 N.W.2d 270, 273 (Minn. App. 1990) (affirming Commissioner's representative's finding that serious illness exception was inapplicable because relator failed to take appropriate steps to apprise employer of problems before resigning). The Commissioner's representative's determination that the serious illness exception does not apply to Finn's claim is supported by the evidence.


Respondent Commissioner asserts that the appendix to Finn's brief contains materials this court must disregard because they are not part of the record on appeal. Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01 provides:

The papers filed in the trial court, the exhibits, and the transcript of the proceedings, if any, shall constitute the record on appeal in all cases.

The law is clear that matters not received into evidence before the Commissioner's representative may not be considered on subsequent appeal. Imprint Technologies, 535 N.W.2d at 378 (citing Plowman v. Copeland, Buhl & Co., 261 N.W.2d 581, 583 (Minn. 1977)).

The items at pages 1 through 10 of Finn's appendix were part of the record below. However, the balance of the documents in Finn's appendix were not part of the record before the Commissioner's representative and were not considered on this appeal.