Filed June 8, 2004.
Appeal from the Department of Employment and Economic Development, File No. 501403.
Kimberly L. Gombold, Stillwater, Mn, (pro se relator)
Aramark Education Resources, Inc., Columbus, Oh, (respondent)
Lee B. Nelson, Katrina I. Gulstad, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, St. Paul, Mn, (for respondent Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development)
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Peterson, Judge.
This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
Pro se relator, Kimberly L. Gombold, challenges the determination of the commissioner's representative that she is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she quit her employment. Relator contends that she had good reason to quit caused by the employer's failure to address staffing shortages. Because the record supports the finding that relator did not allow the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the staffing shortages, we affirm.
Gombold was employed as an assistant center director for Aramark Educational Resources at the Woodbury Children's World Learning Center from April 13, 1988, through February 5, 2003. In late spring 2002, the daycare center began having staffing problems. Daycare centers are required by law to maintain a teacher-to-child ratio that varies based on the children's ages. When a teacher calls in sick, or is out on leave, the managers move children and/or teachers from one room to another to maintain the required ratio. On occasion, the Woodbury center was out of compliance.
Gombold worked closely with the previous center director, Brenda Cadalbert, to resolve staffing issues by helping out in the classrooms, in the kitchen, and driving the van to pick up children. Cadalbert testified that staffing "was an everyday struggle for us."
In January 2003, Cadalbert transferred to another facility, and Lisa Halverson became the new center director. Halverson's first day of work was scheduled to be February 3, 2003. That morning, both Halverson and a staff member called in sick. In a telephone conversation, Gombold complained to Halverson that the center was short staffed and she needed help. The next day, Halverson and Gombold worked together for the first time. On February 5, 2003, Halverson again called in the morning and told Gombold that she would be out of the office that day. Gombold was again upset and told Halverson that she needed help at the center. When Halverson reiterated that she was not able to be there, Gombold told her that Gombold could not remain employed under the circumstances and quit her employment.
An employee who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless the employee quit because of a good reason caused by the employer. Minn. Stat. 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2002). In addition, if an employee "was subjected to adverse working conditions by the employer," the employee "must complain to the employer and give the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the adverse working conditions before that may be considered a good reason caused by the employer for quitting." Id., subd. 3(b) (2002); see Larson v. Dep't of Econ. Sec., 281 N.W.2d 667, 669 (Minn. 1979) (holding that employee who quit because he claimed he was being harassed by a coworker "had a duty to inform the employer of those allegations to allow the employer the opportunity to correct the situation"). Whether an employee had good cause to quit is a question of law. Wood v. Menard, Inc., 490 N.W.2d 441, 443 (Minn. App. 1992). We review the commissioner's representative's factual findings in the light most favorable to the decision and will not disturb them if the record reasonably tends to sustain them. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996).
There is no dispute that Gombold quit her employment. In her brief, Gombold states her reason for quitting:
I had gone from working in a occasional high stress safe working environment with extensive support from Brenda Cadalbert (Past Center Director) to a very stressful and extremely unsafe environment with no support from the new director, Lisa Halverson.
Due to the overwhelming responsibility of my job and not enough support from management to staff the center according to the LAW I faced a painful reality that I could no longer be responsible for the Children whom rely on Childrens World Learning Centers to provide professional care. I had no choice but to resign immediately.
The commissioner's representative found that "Gombold quit her employment because she was upset by the staffing shortage and its [e]ffect on the daycare's legal staffing requirements." The record demonstrates that Gombold had been working with staffing shortages on and off since at least spring 2002. Staffing issues had been the cause of high stress for Gombold when she worked with Cadalbert, but with Cadalbert's assistance, they resolved the staffing issues. Upon learning that Halverson was not going to help out in the daycare center as Cadalbert had, Gombold quit. The commissioner's representative found that "[r]ather than allow the new center director a reasonable opportunity to correct the shortage, Gombold quit her employment on February 5, 2003."
When Halverson called in sick on February 3, 2002, Gombold told her that the center was short staffed and she needed help. But by quitting two days later, Gombold failed to give the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the adverse working conditions caused by Halverson's failure to help out the way that Cadalbert had. Therefore, under Minn. stat. 268.095, subd. 3(b), those adverse working conditions may not be considered a good reason for quitting caused by the employer.