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Rootes v. Wal-Mart Associates

September 30, 2003

JENNIFER L. ROOTES, RELATOR,
v.
WAL-MART ASSOCIATES, INC., RESPONDENT, COMMISSIONER OF EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, RESPONDENT.



Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 11906 02

Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Schumacher, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

An employee who resigns from employment rather than accept substantial adverse changes in wages and hours has good reason caused by the employer to quit under Minn. Stat. §á268.095, subd. 3(c) (2002), and is not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits under Minn. Stat. §á268.095, subd. 1(1) (2002).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert H. Schumacher, Judge

Reversed

OPINION

In this certiorari appeal, relator Jennifer L. Rootes challenges a determination by the commissioner's representative that she was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. The commissioner's representative found she voluntarily quit her employment with respondent Wal-Mart Associates, Inc. without good reason caused by Wal-Mart. We reverse.

FACTS

Rootes was a grocery department manager for Wal-Mart. She was employed from November 2000 until May 6, 2002. In February 2002, Wal-Mart warned Rootes that she was not adequately performing her duties. Later that spring, Wal-Mart gave Rootes a"D-day," a paid day off where an employee decides if he or she wants to stay in his or her current position. Rootes chose to retain her position and submitted a plan detailing how she would improve her performance. The plan was accepted, and she was allowed to continue as department manager.

A few months later, Rootes's supervisor informed her she was not adequately performing her job and would need to decide by the end of her shift whether she would resign or accept a lesser position. Rootes left work without speaking to anyone. The next day, Rootes called in sick. At some point following her weekend off, Rootes decided to quit rather than accept the demotion.

Prior to her decision to quit, Rootes worked Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. She was paid $11.13 per hour. Rootes was confident that if she accepted a demotion her pay would be decreased, the hours she worked would change considerably, and she would have to work weekends. Rootes never asked for details regarding the effects of demotion. Wal-Mart concedes it likely would have demoted Rootes to a stocking or cashier position, reducing her wages by $1.75 per hour and requiring her to work a different shift, including weekends.

Rootes sought unemployment benefits. An unemployment law judge determined Rootes quit but was eligible for benefits because she quit for good reason caused by Wal-Mart. On appeal, the commissioner's representative concluded Rootes did not quit for a good reason caused by Wal-Mart because an average reasonable person would not quit and become unemployed without first confirming the conditions of her new position. Based on this conclusion, the commissioner's representative determined Rootes was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits under Minn. Stat. §á268.095, subd. 1(1) (2002).

ISSUE

Did Rootes quit for good reason caused by ...


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