Aldon E. Christianson, Relator, vs. Transport Leasing Contract, Inc., Respondent, Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.
This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Aldon E. Christianson,
Transport Leasing Contract, Inc.,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed July 22, 2003
G. Barry Anderson, Judge
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File No. 7233 02
John E. Mack, Mack & Daby P.L.L.P., Post Office Box 302, New London, MN 56273 (for relator)
Transport Leasing Contract, Inc., c/o The Frick Company, Post Office Box 66058, St. Louis, MO 63166 (respondent)
Lee B. Nelson, M. Kate Chaffee, Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Anderson, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
G. BARRY ANDERSON, Judge
Relator appeals from the commissioner's representative's determination that relator quit his employment without good cause. Because the record reasonably supports the commissioner's decision, we affirm.FACTS Transport Leasing Contract, Inc. (TLC) hired relator in July 2000 and he was assigned to Kienholz Farms as a leased truck driver. When he was hired in July 2000, relator signed a TLC employee agreement. The agreement required relator to call TLC for reassignment if he was released from his duties with the lessee. This agreement also stated that relator was an employee of TLC and not an employee of a lessee to whom he was assigned. Relator's employment with TLC was not continuous. His most recent employment date was July 12, 2001, when relator was again leased back to Kienholz Farms where he worked as a truck driver until November 15, 2001, when that job ended. When his work with Kienholz Farms ended November 15, 2001, relator did not contact TLC for reassignment and has not been employed by TLC since then.
In December 2001 TLC sent relator a letter stating that other positions were available and asked him to contact TLC to discuss possible reassignment options. Relator did not contact TLC. In March 2002 relator applied to the Minnesota Department of Economic Security for unemployment benefits. In June 2002 the unemployment-law judge affirmed the department's adjudicator's determination that relator had not quit voluntarily. In September 2002 the commissioner's representative determined that relator quit his job, no exception to disqualification applied, and, therefore, relator was not eligible for unemployment benefits. Relator now challenges the commissioner's representative's decision.D E C I S I O N
On appeal, this court reviews the decision of the commissioner's representative rather than the decision of the unemployment-law judge. Kalberg v. Park & Recreation Bd.,563 N.W.2d 275, 276 (Minn. App. 1997). Particular deference is given to the commissioner. Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995). The commissioner's representative's findings of fact of are viewed in the light most favorable to the decision, and if there is evidence in the record that reasonably tends to sustain them, they will not be disturbed. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996). Whether an employee is disqualified from receipt of unemployment benefits is a question of law that this court reviews de novo. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
Relator argues that the commissioner's representative erred in finding that he quit his employment with TLC. The commissioner's representative relied on Minn. Stat. §268.095, subd. 2(d) (2002), which provides:
An applicant who, without good cause, fails to affirmatively request an additional job assignment after completion of a temporary job assignment from a staffing service employer shall be considered to have quit employment.
This paragraph shall apply only if, at the time of beginning of employment with the staffing service employer, the applicant signed and was provided a copy of a separate document written in clear and concise language that informed the applicant of this paragraph and that employment benefits may be affected.
For purposes of this paragraph, "good cause" shall be a reason that is significant and would compel an average, reasonable worker, who would otherwise want an additional temporary job assignment with the staffing service employer, to fail to contact the staffing service employer. The applicant shall be considered to have good cause if the temporary job assignment just completed was not suitable employment for the applicant.
For purposes of this paragraph, a "staffing service employer" is an employer whose business involves employing individuals directly for the purpose of furnishing temporary help to clients of the staffing service.
The commissioner's representative found that relator was employed by TLC, a temporary staffing agency, from July 2000 through November 15, 2001. The record reflects that TLC is an employer that assigns its employees to clients for temporary jobs assignments. Relator's services had been leased by TLC to Kienholz Farms for hauling vegetables during the summer and fall of both 2000 and 2001. Relator acknowledged that he received his paychecks from TLC during those time periods. The evidence reasonably supports the commissioner's representative's findings that relator was employed for temporary job assignments by a "staffing service employer," as required under Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 2(d).
Relator argues that he had no obligation to contact TLC after his assignment ended with Kienholz Farms because he did not sign a new TLC employee agreement when he began working for TLC again in July 2001 and, therefore, was not given proper notice of the requirement to contact TLC to request reassignment.
Relator acknowledged that he had previously signed a TLC employee agreement. That agreement was dated July 1, 2000, and stated in part:
I will call-in for reassignment if the lessee that I am assigned to has its' service agreement with TLC cancelled for whatever reason or the lessee releases me for lack of work. If I do not call-in, I will be classified as a "voluntary termination" for unemployment compensation claim purposes.
The commissioner's representative noted that after realtor's assignment to Kienholz Farms in 2000 ended, he called TLC for reassignment. But relator acknowledged that he did not call TLC when his assignment to Kienholz Farms ended in November 2001. At that time, relator was concerned that TLC might assign him to a job that would require him to relocate or to haul loads that were unsatisfactory to him. This evidence reasonably supports the commissioner's representative's findings that relator had an obligation to contact TLC after his assignment ended with Kienholz Farms on November 15, 2001, and when he did not contact TLC, he quit employment with TLC.
While the commissioner's representative did not specifically address whether relator had "good cause" for not requesting a reassignment, the record establishes that relator did not want a reassignment from TLC if it was not local or if it involved heavy hauling. But relator failed to contact TLC even after correspondence from TLC invited him to do so. And certainly relator failed to advise TLC that he was willing to accept other assignments. Because relator did not even discuss his preferences with TLC the representative correctly concluded there was no "good cause" for his failure to request a reassignment from TLC under Minn. Stat. §268.095, subd. 2(d).
Under Minn. Stat. 268.095, subd. 1 (2002), an individual who quits employment is disqualified from the payment of unemployment benefits unless one of the eight exceptions applies. The commissioner's representative conclusion that none of these exceptions were applicable to relator is reasonably supported by the record, as is the determination that relator quit without good cause.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.