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Constructive discharge a tough sell after you ask to be fired

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in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Mary Barone had worked for United Airlines since 1995. In 2005, she was promoted to manager of business process administration in Denver.

That summer, Barone reported to her supervisor, Todd Sprague, that the highest-paid supervisors in one pay grade were all male, and that in another pay grade, men consistently received higher performance ratings than women. She also reported that male new hires in one unit received higher pay than any of the women who already worked there.

In August, Barone received her first negative performance review. She alleged that Sprague told her she should work some shifts doing operational work to “get a dose of reality.”

Barone then e-mailed Sprague, saying, “You should look for someone who can do a better job … I can only work when I know I am of value.” Later that month, Sprague met with Barone and gave her a choice: accept a demotion or resign. Barone resigned.

Barone sued for discrimination and retaliation, alleging constructive discharge—essentially that she had no choice but to resign.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock dismissed her case. He noted that in her e-mail, Barone urged Sprague to replace her. Further, when she was demoted, she failed to apply for any other positions at United. Instead, “she simply asked for her old job back, even if it meant working for Sprague.” He ruled, “This is inconsistent with her allegation that Sprague made her working conditions objectively intolerable.”

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