I cannot count the number of times that someone has called my law firm, described a workplace situation that likely violated a federal or state employment law, but then told me he quit his job. As far as I am concerned, this is the “kiss of death” for a good discrimination or retaliation employment law claim.
Yes, I know all about the legal doctrine of “constructive discharge,” i.e. where conditions are so unbearable that no reasonable person could continue working under those circumstances. The doctrine of constructive discharge makes for a good law review article, but try successfully litigating a constructive discharge claim in federal court. Except for the most extreme circumstances, most constructive discharge claims fail. As a general rule, if you have quit your job, you likely have cutoff your damages as of the date you quit.
When you quit your job because of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, your employer wins on every level. You have not only potentially harmed or destroyed your employment law claim, but you just solved your employer’s biggest problem—how to get rid of you. In fact, your employer secretly will celebrate the fact that you quit your job. But, the opposite is also true. As long as you remain employed, you are the proverbial “fly in the ointment.” You are privy to what is occurring in the workplace, and you still have access to your email and other relevant evidence. Plus, in the context of a lawsuit settlement, you can often negotiate your resignation for a more lucrative recovery.
If your employer is subjecting you to unlawful conduct and you are contemplating taking legal action, chances are that you think about quitting on a daily basis. If possible, don’t quit! Instead, contact an experienced employment lawyer to discuss your legal rights. The Law Office of Robert J. Hunt, LLC is an Indianapolis employment law firm that represents clients throughout the state of Indiana.