Under limited circumstances, an employee can claim that harassment or discrimination at work made her life so miserable that she had no choice but to quit. She can then walk out and sue as if she had been fired. It’s what’s known as constructive discharge.
But what if it turns out that the employee found a job before quitting? That can sink her claim. That’s why you may want to check for telltale job-hunting signs after a sudden resignation, such as a recently prepared résumé or an Internet search history that includes job sites.
Recent case: Krishna McCollins sold Physicians Weight Loss Center franchises for a decade before quitting over alleged intolerable sexual harassment. But it turned out that she sought and accepted a job before quitting. That sank her constructive discharge claim. (McCollins v. Health Management Group, No. 1:10-CV-1193, ND OH, 2011)
- Dress, grooming policies should serve bona fide business need
- Firing harasser is necessary, even if long-ago age comment could spark lawsuit
- Before you're sued: Check for bias patterns
- Solid rules, documentation, enforcement are keys to winning discharge cases
- One more reason to keep job descriptions current