Harassment in the workplace is a serious issue: one that has the potential to greatly affect a person’s work performance and mental health. If you’ve been a victim of harassment, our legal team at Holman Schiavone, LLC in Kansas City, MO is here to tell you that your story isn’t finished yet. We are equipped to guide you on the path to justice, no matter what your starting point.
If Possible, Speak With an Experienced Employment Attorney Before You Quit
The question of “Can I quit my job for harassment?” is one that many individuals facing a hostile work environment grapple with. If you’re experiencing workplace harassment, your instinct might be to quit your job. However, before you do so, it’s recommended you consult with one of our experienced employment attorneys. They can provide advice tailored to your circumstances and help you understand your rights and obligations under the law.
Sexual harassment is a form of employment discrimination prohibited by federal law, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. However, enforcing Title VII and other legal protections requires following complex legal procedures. This is where our attorneys come in. A qualified member of our legal team can guide you through the process of reporting harassment to your employer and can assist you if you decide to escalate your complaint to a federal agency like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or to a federal court.
Risks and Benefits of Filing an EEOC Complaint After Quitting
If you decide to quit your job due to harassment, you can still file a complaint with the EEOC, but know that there are both risks and benefits.
One of the risks is that the EEOC may not conclude that the harassment was severe or pervasive enough to create an unlawful hostile work environment, and since you are no longer at the workplace, the evidence may be more limited.
Furthermore, leaving the job may limit certain types of compensation, such as back pay and front pay, especially if the EEOC determines that the employer had an effective anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure in place and you did not follow it out.
The potential benefits of filing a complaint after quitting include the opportunity to hold the employer accountable for failing to prevent or adequately address the harassment, and possibly the ability to receive compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages, if the EEOC concludes that the employer acted with malice or reckless indifference to the employee’s rights.
If you’ve taken steps and the harassment continues, or if you face retaliation as a result, quitting may be seen as a form of constructive discharge. This could strengthen your case if you decide to sue your former employer for harassment. It’s always wise to consult with an attorney before making such a significant decision.
Can I Quit Due to Harassment?
While you may feel quitting is your only option, it’s important to first take steps to try to resolve the issue within the company.
Quitting your job due to harassment could potentially lead to a constructive discharge claim, which can impact your ability to recover lost wages and compensation for emotional distress. However, the specifics of the circumstances and the applicable employment and labor laws can influence the outcomes.
Follow Your Employer’s Written Steps for Reporting Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
Sexual harassment can manifest in various forms, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates a sexually hostile work environment. To pursue a harassment claim, employees must follow their employers’ anti-harassment policies, which often involve reporting harassment to the human resources department or a designated manager.
The process for reporting harassment often starts with the aggrieved employee documenting each incident of harassment, including the date, time, location, persons involved, and any potential witnesses. This written record will form the basis of your report and provide evidence to support your claims. After you’ve made your report, the employer is legally required to conduct an investigation into the allegations. Should you decide to quit your job during this investigation, it could potentially impact your harassment claim.
Does The Employer Have Any Sexual Harassment Claims Against Them?
Harassment lawsuits can often hinge on the severity and pervasiveness of the conduct. Under state law in Missouri, and federal law as well, the conduct must be severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile or offensive work environment for a reasonable person. Isolated incidents, unless extremely serious, do not always constitute harassment.
However, if the offensive conduct is so intolerable that a reasonable person would feel compelled to resign, it may lead to a constructive discharge claim. It’s the job of our attorneys to help you determine whether your experiences meet these criteria. One helpful element is if there have been complaints or claims made against your employer in the past. These can demonstrate a pattern of harassment.
Constructive Discharge and Quitting
Constructive discharge, under both federal and state law, occurs when an employee quits their job due to a work environment that has become so intolerable that they felt they had no choice but to resign. If an employee quits because of such conditions, the law treats it as though the employer had forced the employee out, which may provide grounds for a lawsuit.
To prove constructive discharge in a harassment lawsuit, you must provide evidence that the hostile work environment was pervasive or severe, that you brought the problem to your employer’s attention, and that your employer did not take adequate steps to address the harassment. Essentially, quitting your job under such circumstances could potentially strengthen your legal position, as it may serve as evidence of the severity of the harassment. It can also make it harder to prove in other cases. Again, talking to a lawyer as soon as possible is always the smart move.
Employees Facing Harassment Must Follow Their Employer’s Anti-Harassment Policies
One of the key aspects of pursuing a harassment claim is that the employee must have followed their employer’s anti-harassment policies and procedures.
These policies typically outline a process for reporting harassment, which can include notifying a supervisor, human resources, or another designated party within the company. An employee who fails to follow these procedures may find it challenging to prove they took reasonable steps to address the harassment before quitting.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who report harassment or participate in an investigation of harassment under the law. Retaliation includes any negative job action, like demotion, discipline, firing, salary reduction, or job or shift reassignment.
If you quit your job due to retaliation, the law protects you. An experienced employment attorney from our team of qualified legal experts can help you understand these protections and take the necessary steps to ensure you receive fair treatment.
Sex and Gender Discrimination
Expressions of sexual harassment can take multiple forms, such as unsolicited sexual overtures, solicitations for sexual concessions, or any other spoken or physical behavior with a sexual undertone that cultivates a work environment pervaded by sexual hostility.
In addition to sexual harassment, Title VII also prohibits gender discrimination, including discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. If you’ve been subjected to harassment because of your gender identity or sexual orientation, this may constitute illegal discrimination, and you may have a claim even if you’ve already left your job.
Benefits of Hiring an EEOC Lawyer in Missouri
Hiring an experienced employment attorney is essential when dealing with workplace harassment and the complexities of the EEOC complaint process. Our attorneys can provide advice about whether quitting a job because of harassment is the best option, can assist with the preparation of the EEOC complaint, and can represent you as the employee during EEOC mediations or hearings. Furthermore, if the EEOC issues a “right to sue” letter, one of our qualified attorneys can represent you as a former employee in a federal court lawsuit.
Our team is committed to upholding a strong attorney-client relationship as we work to prevent a hostile working environment for our clients. If we take your case, we don’t charge any fees unless you win.
If you have experienced sexual harassment, workplace harassment, or workplace discrimination that caused you to look for a new job, then you might still qualify to take legal action. Contact us today at Holman Schiavone, LLC in Kansas City, MO, or call our law firm at 816-330-2253 to schedule a free consultation. As experts in employment law and labor law, we are well-equipped to fight on your behalf in light of the unfair treatment of discrimination or harassment.