STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
S & T Products,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed October 20, 1998
Department of Economic Security
Agency No. 9743 UC 97
Eileen Barton, 9858 Hayward Avenue, Cottage Grove, MN 55016 (pro se relator)
Kent E. Todd, Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Randall, Judge.
Relator challenges the commissioner's finding that she voluntarily left her employment without good reason caused by the employer. Because the evidence sustains that finding, we affirm.
Relator Eileen Barton worked as a wholesale purchasing agent for respondent S & T Office Products. Relator received a cost-of-living increase and requested a larger raise, but was told the company did not have any more money. Relator claims respondent threatened her when she inquired about the salary of a worker who had previously held the same position.
Displeased, relator asked respondent for a letter of recommendation later that month, indicating that she was going to begin looking for other employment. Respondent gave her a reference letter and a memorandum that stated it would begin looking for her replacement and if a replacement was hired before relator found other work, respondent would give relator two weeks' notice. Relator then met with the vice-president and told him she was not quitting, but intended to stay indefinitely.
Relator tendered her resignation and gave as the reason for her departure a move to Nevada to be with her fiancé. She provided this same reason when she applied for reemployment insurance benefits, but later contended that the "real" reason she quit was because respondent discriminated against her based on pay and threatened her with termination.
Relator was disqualified from reemployment insurance benefits because she voluntarily quit her employment. On appeal, a reemployment insurance judge affirmed the disqualification. Relator appealed the decision and a commissioner's representative affirmed. This appeal followed.
Whether an employee has been terminated or quit voluntarily is primarily a question of fact. Midland Elec., Inc. v. Johnson, 372 N.W.2d 810, 812 (Minn. App. 1985). The reviewing court will not disturb the factual findings if the record includes evidence that reasonably sustains those findings. White v. Metropolitan Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). Once the employer has established that the employee voluntarily quit, the burden shifts to the employee to prove that she left employment with good cause attributable to the employer. Marz v. Department of Employment Servs., 256 N.W.2d 287, 290 (Minn. 1977).
Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 1a (Supp. 1997) states in part:
A claimant who quits employment shall be disqualified from benefits:
(1) unless the claimant quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the employer[.]
Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 2a (Supp. 1997) provides:
A quit from employment occurs when the decision to end the employment was, at the time the employment ended, the employee's. An employee who seeks to withdraw a previously submitted notice of quitting shall be considered to have quit the employment if the employer does not agree that the notice may be withdrawn.
Minn. Stat. § 268.09, subd. 9 (Supp. 1997) provides in part:
(a) A good reason caused by the employer for quitting is a reason:
(1) that is directly related to the employment for which the employer is responsible; and
(2) that is significant and would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit.
Respondent established that relator voluntarily quit by providing evidence, written by relator, that stated she quit to move to Nevada. The burden of proof then shifted to appellant, who argued that despite what she may have written earlier, the real reason she quit was because an earlier male wholesale purchasing agent was paid more than she. When questioned at the hearing, respondent indicated that the job responsibilities associated with that job title had changed during those years. Relator did not present any additional information about the claimed discrepancies. Relator failed to show any good reason for termination caused by the employer because she did not demonstrate that she performed the same job for less compensation. She presented no information to counter respondent's explanation for the salary difference, other than her opinion. Relator is precluded from presenting new evidence on appeal. See Plowman v. Copeland, Buhl & Co., 261 N.W.2d 581, 583 (Minn. 1977) (evidence that was not received below may not be considered on appeal).
Additionally, relator asserts she was threatened when she asked for a letter of recommendation. Arguably, respondent's letter indicating that a replacement would be sought and relator would then receive two weeks' notice, could be termed "threatening." However, relator promptly clarified her intent to remain and she continued to work for respondent for nine months. Relator also argues that she was threatened when she expressed disappointment over her last salary increase and her supervisor told her to "remember what happened to Richard," an employee who was laid off. Relator interpreted this statement as a "threat to her job security." Respondent's denial that this statement was made was apparently accepted by the commissioner, and it is not for this court to make credibility determinations anew on appeal. General v. General, 409 N.W.2d 511, 513 (Minn. App. 1987).
Consideration of the record supports the commissioner's decision. Relator failed to establish that she quit her employment because of a good reason caused by respondent.