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Sudden quit? Sort out why before panicking

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Good news if an employee isn’t satisfied with whatever you did to try to address a problem she raised: She can’t just quit in frustration and expect to win a lawsuit against you.

Recent case: Dixie started her work with Molina Healthcare as an accounts payable clerk. Soon, she was promoted to payroll manager for nine Molina facilities, where she had regular access to many employees’ files.

After discovering that several jobs had been outsourced to Indian nationals, Dixie complained to HR that the company discriminated against U.S. workers.

Molina Healthcare, however, believed that outsourcing some functions—especially IT work—was legal and an acceptable business practice. In the end, Molina Healthcare largely ignored Dixie’s complaints.

Around the same time, Dixie was having trouble with her supervisor, whom she said often screamed at her, allegedly prompting her literally to tear out her hair. After one argument with her boss, Dixie packed up her things and quit.

Then she sued, claiming retaliation for reporting her concerns about the use of Indian nationals.

The court tossed out her claim. It noted that none of the boss’s misbehavior Dixie described could be seen as related to her initial complaints. She may have had a difficult supervisor, but that wasn’t obviously related to her discrimination claims. And there was no evidence that Dixie, who continued to get good reviews, had been punished for complaining. She may have been frustrated that her employer didn’t see outsourcing the way she did, but that wasn’t grounds to quit. (Lewellen v. Molina Healthcare, No. B250557, Court of Appeal of California, 2015)

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