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People Quit Their Jobs Every Day
Roughly 48% of the currently identified unemployed actually quit their
job. An unusually high number? No. That
is within range the national norm for the past 5 years.
Many people quit because they felt they were being treated unfairly, or even
abusively, during their employment. Stated otherwise, many felt they were
subjected to a hostile work environment.
What is a Hostile Work Environment Under the Law?
However, hostile work environments, as
defined in the law, are somewhat rare. Indeed, in
order to prove that a hostile work environment exists, one typically must
allege the existence of sexual
harassment, or a
work environment filled with racism, or extreme and overt criticisms based upon
a persons age, sex, national origin, religion, etc.
There are some other scenarios, such as being subjected to hostility because
you took leave protected
under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), sought a reasonable accommodation under the Americans
With Disabilities Act (ADA), filed a workers' compensation
to be paid overtime which you reasonably believed you were entitled to
under the law or made a claim protected under a whistleblower
statute (there are a few others, and they vary from state to state).
Mere Proof of Cruel, Unfair or Immoral Treatment is Not Proof of an Illegal
Hostile Work Environment
However, they key point is as
having a cruel, hostile boss, or a gang of insensitive, bullying co-workers is
not enough to prove a hostile work environment. This is the
foundation of the employment
at will doctrine.
NOTE: If you have to quit your job because of severe mistreatment by
management and/or co-workers, you
may be entitled to unemployment benefits even if you were not
subjected to an illegal hostile work environment.
You Have a Constructive Discharge Claim Only if You Were Subjected to an
Illegal Hostile Work Environment
Understanding these principles is important, because a claim of
constructive discharge only lies where an illegally hostile work
environment left the employee with no choice but to resign.
Truly Illegal Hostile Work Environment Claims Are Relatively Rare
I would say that of the roughly 6 Million people who are currently unemployed
due to quitting their jobs, a very small percentage could actually make out a
claim of constructive discharge. While a much larger percentage quit
because they found their job intolerable due to the (mis)behavior of their bosses
and/or colleagues, the law does not require civility in the workplace.
If You Quit Your Job Because of One of These Scenarios, You May Have a
Constructive Discharge Case
In summary, and generally, if you quit your job for any of the following reasons,
you may well have a claim for constructive discharge:
1) You were the victim of sexual harassment by your supervisor or boss;
2) You were the victim of sexual harassment by a co-worker and
complained to management, but it failed to take steps to fix the problem, which
3) You were treated badly at work, and it was made clear that the
mistreatment had come about because you were disliked because of your age, sex,
race, national origin, religious beliefs, or disability;
4) You made a reasonable complaint that you believed you were being
treated badly because of your age, sex, race, etc., management responded
ineffectively and the environment became even more hostile. This is known
as a unlawful retaliation claim.
5) You took leave under FMLA, sought overtime to which you
believed you were entitled, sought a reasonable accommodation under ADA or
filed a workers' compensation claim -- and thereafter were retaliated against
by your employer via mistreatment, change of duties, etc.
6) You made a whistleblower complaint, and were thereafter subjected to a
hostile work atmosphere.
Generally, unless you have one of these scenarios, you likely do not have a
claim for a hostile work environment, and therefore do not have a claim of
Read more articles
about employment law issues at Philadelphia Area Employment Lawyer, a blog
by John A. Gallagher.
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