Carmen L. Chappelear, Relator, vs. Zale Delaware, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.  A05-1868, Court of Appeals Unpublished, April 25, 2006.









This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

A05-1868

 

 

Carmen L. Chappelear,

Relator,

 

vs.

 

Zale Delaware, Inc.,

Respondent,

 

Department of Employment

and Economic Development,

Respondent.

 

 

Filed April 25, 2006

Affirmed

Klaphake, Judge

 

Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 1030305

 

Carmen L. Chappelear, 14692 Denmark Ct., Apple Valley, MN  55124 (pro se relator)

 

Zale Delaware, Inc., 901 West Walnut Hill Lane, Irving, TX  75038-1003 (respondent)

 

Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN  55101-1351 (for respondent department)

 

            Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Klaphake, Judge; and Peterson, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

KLAPHAKE, Judge

            Pro se relator Carmen Chappelear challenges a decision by an unemployment law judge (ULJ) affirming an earlier decision that relator quit employment without good reason caused by the employer and was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.  Because this court will not disturb credibility determinations made by the ULJ, because the findings are reasonably supported by the evidence, and because the ULJ ruled properly as a matter of law that relator quit employment without good reason caused by the employer, we affirm.

D E C I S I O N

            On certiorari review, an appellate court reviews findings in the light most favorable to the decision and will not reverse if record evidence reasonably tends to sustain those findings.  See Ress v. Abbott Nw. Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).  A decision as to whether an employee was properly disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits is a question of law reviewed de novo.  Markel v. City of Circle Pines, 479 N.W.2d 382, 384 (Minn. 1992).  But this court defers to credibility determinations made by an agency’s factfinder.  Munro Holding, LLC v. Cook, 695 N.W.2d 379, 384 (Minn. App. 2005).

            Under the current statutory scheme, the ULJ holds an evidentiary hearing and makes findings of fact and a decision.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 1(a), (c) (Supp. 2005).  The ULJ is specifically directed to make credibility determinations and set out the reasons for doing so.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 1(c).  The ULJ also decides requests for reconsideration.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 2(a) (Supp. 2005).  Consequently, this court reviews the ULJ’s findings.

            The first issue here involves review of the determination by the ULJ that the employer’s version that relator quit was more credible than relator’s version that she was fired.  Relator testified first that the regional manager said that relator would be immediately terminated, but relator later testified that she was told she would be terminated in two weeks.  Relator also testified that she quit only because she knew she would be discharged.  In contrast, the regional manager testified that she advised relator that falsifying the merchandise counts was a serious issue but that no decision on termination had been made yet.  The ULJ ruled the regional manager’s testimony described a “more consistent and believable chain of events” than relator’s testimony, and concluded that the regional manager’s testimony was more persuasive than relator’s testimony.  The ULJ’s findings are reasonably supported by the evidence, and this court will not disturb his credibility determinations.

            The next issue is whether the ULJ properly determined that relator quit based on these facts.  The statute defines “quit” and “discharge.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subds. 2, 5 (2004).  “Quit” is defined as follows:

                                    (a)  A quit from employment occurs when the decision to end the employment was, at the time the employment ended, the employee’s.

 

                                    (b)  An employee who has been notified that the employee will be discharged in the future, who chooses to end the employment while employment in any capacity is still available, shall be considered to have quit the employment.

 

Id., subd. 2.  “Discharge” is defined as:  “A discharge from employment occurs when any words or actions by an employer would lead a reasonable employee to believe that the employer will no longer allow the employee to work for the employer in any capacity.”  Id., subd. 5(a).  Here, under the facts as found by the ULJ, relator said that she was probably going to be fired anyway so she would quit, made several complaints about her job, turned in her keys, and walked away from the workplace.  The ULJ ruled that relator ended the employment relationship when she quit.  These findings are reasonably supported by the evidence and constitute a quit as a matter of law.

            We next consider the ULJ’s decision that relator did not show good cause for quitting.  One who quits employment is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, unless the quit occurred because of good reason caused by the employer.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (2004).  Here, the ULJ found that the employer had the right to enforce reasonable workplace policies and that there was no evidence that it treated relator unfairly or breached the employment contract.

            On appeal, relator raises complaints about her relationship with her manager and alleges favoritism toward other employees, although in greater detail than she asserted at the hearing.  First, the record on certiorari appeal consists of the papers filed, exhibits, and transcript, if any.  Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01, 115.04, subd. 1 (providing that rule 110.01 applies to certiorari appeals).  An appellate court may not consider matters that are not part of the record below.  Plowman v. Copeland, Buhl & Co., 261 N.W.2d 581, 583 (Minn. 1977).  Second, personality conflicts and dissatisfaction with working conditions do not constitute a good reason to quit attributable to the employer.  Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass’n, 409 N.W.2d 23, 26 (Minn. App. 1987).  Finally, there is no evidence in the record that relator advised her employer about her workplace concerns before the interaction took place in which she quit.  See Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(c) (2004) (relator must complain to employer to give employer opportunity to correct problem before it can constitute good reason to quit).  The ULJ’s finding that relator did not have good reason to quit caused by the employer has reasonable support in the record and applies the law correctly.

            Relator raises several other issues.  First, she notes that the ULJ who was scheduled to hear the case was unable to appear and that the substitute ULJ admitted that he did not have a chance to prepare.  As the substitute ULJ indicated, however, this case is straightforward, involving primarily a credibility determination.  In addition, there is no showing relator was prejudiced.

            Finally, relator challenges another finding.  She asserts that the regional manager was incorrect when she testified relator was falsifying the counts.  Instead, relator was instructed to count the jewelry any way she wished as long as she did the job.  The ULJ found that relator did not perform the required merchandise count.  This finding is supported by the record and is not clearly erroneous.

            The decision of the ULJ that relator quit employment without good reason caused by the employer is affirmed.

            Affirmed.