From Casetext: Smarter Legal Research

Anderson v. Foley Indep. S.D. No. 51

Minnesota Court of Appeals
Sep 10, 1996
No. C2-96-371 (Minn. Ct. App. Sep. 10, 1996)


No. C2-96-371.

Filed September 10, 1996.

Appeal from the Department of Economic Security, File No. 8012 UC 95.

Brenda L. Theis, (for Relator)

James E. Knutson, Stephen M. Knutson, Michelle D. Kenney, Knutson, Flynn, Deans Olsen, P.A., (for Respondent Employer)

Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, (for Respondent Commissioner)

Considered and decided by Parker, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Schultz, Judge.

This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).


A Commissioner's representative with the Department of Economic Security concluded that Candace Anderson was disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits because she had voluntarily quit her job without good cause attributable to the respondent school district. We affirm.


Candace Anderson was employed by the respondent school district as an administrative assistant. In April 1993, respondent's business manager left, and Anderson and another female employee took over some of the business manager's duties. At that time, Anderson and the other employee became "business associates." Neither Anderson nor the other business associate received an increase in pay, and in early 1995, they began negotiating with the school board for a salary increase.

Some school board members and members of the community reacted negatively to the business associates' request for additional pay, challenging their qualifications. Several articles discussing the issue appeared in the local newspaper. Members of the community signed a petition opposing any pay increase.

Anderson began experiencing severe headaches, which she and her doctor attributed to stress. Anderson's doctor prescribed headache and anti-anxiety medication. Anderson notified respondent's superintendent of her frustrations. The superintendent asked Anderson if she wanted to take time off from work, but Anderson did not believe it would help. Anderson did not request a change in her job duties to alleviate the stress, nor did she consult a psychologist.

Anderson went to the Minnesota Department of Employee Relations, which determined that respondent was vulnerable to a human rights complaint by the business associates on the basis of sex discrimination.

The school board eventually approved a salary increase for Anderson and the other business associate in the amount of $5,500 each. Negative comments were made about the pay increase after it was approved, and one board member wrote a letter to the editor explaining that she had voted for the pay increase to avoid a lawsuit. Anderson was upset about the situation. She resigned because of stress and the criticism she had received from the board and community about her pay increase.


1. Initially, we note that respondent has appended to its brief documents that were not made a part of the record. We have not considered these documents, which were introduced for the first time on appeal. See Plowman v. Copeland, Buhl Co., Ltd. , 261 N.W.2d 581, 583 (Minn. 1977) (stating rule that "an appellate court may not base its decision on matters outside the record on appeal * * * matters not produced and received in evidence below may not be considered").

2. An individual who voluntarily discontinues employment without "good cause attributable to the employer" is disqualified from receiving reemployment insurance benefits. Minn. Stat. § subd. 1(a) (Supp. 1995). Anderson had the burden of proving that she had good cause attributable to respondent to quit. See Marz v. Department of Employment Servs. , 256 N.W.2d 287, 289 (Minn. 1977) (stating burden of proof).

"Good cause" to quit has been defined as 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, 247 N.W.2d 895, 900, n. 5 (1976). The standard for determining good cause is "the standard of reasonableness as applied to the average man or woman, and not to the supersensitive." Id. at 44 n. 5, 247 N.W.2d at 900 n. 5. We agree with the Commissioner's representative that Anderson's working conditions had not become so intolerable that a reasonable person in her situation would have quit. Anderson had received a pay increase of $5,500 several weeks before she quit. Furthermore, the superintendent had asked Anderson if she needed to take some time off. These facts support the determination that Anderson had received an "expectation of assistance" from respondent. See Larson v. Department of Economic Sec. , 281 N.W.2d 667, 669 (Minn. 1979) (holding that when an employee complains and receives assistance from employer, burden was on employee to continue to apprise employer of ongoing problems).

The fact that her salary became a matter of public dispute may have been uncomfortable, but did not provide her with good cause to quit her job. See Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Assoc. , 409 N.W.2d 23 (Minn.App. 1987); Foy v. J.E.K Indus. , 352 N.W.2d 123 (Minn.App. 1984) (stating that a personality conflict or irreconcilable differences between an employee and a supervisor or coworker does not provide the employee with good cause to quit a job). Furthermore, Anderson's situation had substantially improved shortly before she resigned, because she had received a $5,500 increase in pay. See Trego , 409 N.W.2d at 26 (concluding that employee's decision to quit was premature where crisis situation was temporary and had substantially improved before the employee resigned).

3. An individual is not disqualified from receiving reemployment benefits if

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

Minn. Stat. § subd. 1(c)(2). An employee has the burden of proving that this "serious illness exception" to disqualification is applicable to her situation. Minchew v. Minnesota Odd Fellows Home , 429 N.W.2d 702, 703 (Minn.App. 1988).

Although it is undisputed that Anderson suffered severe headaches as a result of her work-related stress, she did not make reasonable efforts to retain her employment. She did not accept the superintendent's offer to take time off. She did not see a psychologist, despite her doctor's recommendation. She did not ask for a change of duties to avoid contact with the school board.

Anderson's resignation was without good cause attributable to respondent, and she did not make reasonable efforts to retain her employment.


Summaries of

Anderson v. Foley Indep. S.D. No. 51

Minnesota Court of Appeals
Sep 10, 1996
No. C2-96-371 (Minn. Ct. App. Sep. 10, 1996)
Case details for

Anderson v. Foley Indep. S.D. No. 51

Case Details

Full title:Candace E. Anderson,, Relator, v. Foley Independent School District No…

Court:Minnesota Court of Appeals

Date published: Sep 10, 1996


No. C2-96-371 (Minn. Ct. App. Sep. 10, 1996)