Filed February 27, 2007.
Department of Employment and Economic Development, File No. 1472 06.
Lisa M. Jones, (pro se relator).
Contemporary Transportation Services Inc., (respondent).
Lee B. Nelson, Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, (for respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development).
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Randall, Judge; and Peterson, Judge.
This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
Pro se relator Lisa Jones challenges the decision by an unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that she is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she quit her employment without good reason caused by the employer. Because the ULJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and the ULJ's decision is not affected by error of law, we affirm.
Relator worked for respondent Contemporary Transportation Services as a van driver. Drivers at Contemporary worked three shifts: morning, midday, and afternoon. Relator worked all three shifts until October 2005.
In October 2005, relator told Contemporary that she needed to give up her morning route because her nine-year-old daughter was having trouble catching the school bus in the morning and she needed to be at home when her child left for school. Contemporary initially accommodated relator's request by allowing her to not work the morning shift and later accommodated her by finding a morning route for relator that allowed her to bring her daughter with her and then drop her off at school on time. Relator accepted the new route.
In November 2005, relator reported that she was having trouble with her vision after dark due to LASIK surgery and asked to have her route shortened so that she would not have to work after 4:30 p.m. Contemporary accommodated her night-vision problem by ending her shift at 4:30.
Relator then reported that she was still having trouble with her daughter's schedule and could not drive the morning shift. Contemporary removed relator from the morning shift but told her that she was no longer eligible to take the company van home with her because only employees who worked all three shifts were allowed to take a company vehicle home. Because relator did not own a vehicle, she no longer had a way to get to and from work.
Relator notified Contemporary that she was quitting her employment because of her inability to work the morning hours and her difficulty in working a full shift in the afternoon. A ULJ determined that relator is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she quit her employment.
This court may reverse or modify the decision of a ULJ if the substantial rights of the employee may have been prejudiced because the ULJ's findings, inferences, conclusion, or decision are affected by error of law or unsupported by substantial evidence. Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d) (2006). We review the ULJ's findings to determine whether they are supported by substantial evidence, and we defer to the ULJ's credibility determinations. Id., subd. 7(d)(5) (stating substantial-evidence standard); Nichols v. Reliant Eng'g Mfg., Inc., 720 N.W.2d 590, 594 (Minn.App. 2006) (stating credibility determinations are to be resolved by the ULJ, and this court will defer to the ULJ's credibility determinations on appeal). Substantial evidence means "(1) such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion; (2) more than a scintilla of evidence; (3) more than some evidence; (4) more than any evidence; or (5) the evidence considered in its entirety." Minn. Ctr. for Envtl. Advocacy v. Minn. Pollution Control Agency, 644 N.W.2d 457, 466 (Minn. 2002).
It is undisputed that relator quit her employment. An applicant who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless a statutory exception applies. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (Supp. 2005). An exception applies when "the applicant quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the employer." Id. "What constitutes good reason caused by the employer is defined exclusively by statute." Rootes v. Wal-Mart Assocs., 669 N.W.2d 416, 418 (Minn.App. 2003). A good reason caused by the employer is a reason "(1) that is directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible; (2) that is adverse to the worker; and (3) that would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment." Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a) (2004). "[T]here must be some compulsion produced by extraneous and necessitous circumstances." Edward v. Sentinel Mgmt. Co., 611 N.W.2d 366, 368 (Minn.App. 2000) (quotation omitted); review denied (Minn. Aug. 15, 2000). "A good personal reason does not equate with good cause" to quit. Kehoe v. Minn. Dep't of Econ. Sec., 568 N.W.2d 889, 891 (Minn.App. 1997) (quotation omitted). "The determination that an employee quit without good reason [caused by] the employer is a legal conclusion, but the conclusion must be based on findings that have the requisite evidentiary support." Nichols, 720 N.W.2d at 594 (citing Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978)).
Relator's decision to quit because she needed to be home to get her daughter off to school in the morning was a good personal reason to quit, but it was not a reason for which the employer was responsible. Therefore, relator does not meet the requirements of the exception under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1), for an employee who quit employment because of a good reason caused by the employer.
Relator also contends that due to LASIK surgery, her night vision was impaired and her "first and foremost reason [for quitting] was that [she] was having problems with [her] vision and night driving." The ULJ found that relator
notified Contemporary that she was experiencing night vision problems on the late afternoon route and requested that her route time be shortened so she would not have to work past 4:30 p.m. Contemporary accommodated this request and scheduled [relator] for only a partial shift in the afternoon from 3:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Relator did not request any further accommodation for her vision problems.
The unemployment-compensation statute provides:
An applicant who quit employment shall be disqualified from all unemployment benefits . . . except when: . . .
(7) the applicant quit the employment because the applicant's serious illness or injury made it medically necessary that the applicant quit, provided that the applicant inform the employer of the serious illness or injury and request accommodation and no reasonable accommodation is made available.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(7). The statute does not define "serious illness or injury," but even if we assume that a vision problem caused by LASIK surgery is a serious illness or injury, the ULJ found that when relator requested accommodation for her vision problem, Contemporary made the requested accommodation. Consequently, relator does not meet the requirements of the exception under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(7), for an employee who quit employment because of a serious illness or injury.