Objectivity is what counts in constructive discharge cases

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

Sometimes, employees who think they are about to be fired for poor performance will try to take pre-emptive action by quitting and then suing. Courts are pretty strict when it comes to “constructive discharge.” Employees have to show that their treatment was so poor that a reasonable person would have had no choice but to quit.

Recent case: Julie Kassera, who is over age 40, worked with special-education students. She later claimed that she was being unfairly targeted for special scrutiny because of her age. After her bosses called her into a meeting to discuss performance issues, she quit and sued.

The court said that while Kassera might have subjectively thought she was being treated miserably, an objective and reasonable employee would not have quit because of the way she was treated. The court threw out her case. (Kassera v. Independent School District No. 11, No. 07-CV-2292, DC MN, 2008)

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