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Constructive discharge: when quitting constitutes illegal termination.
Subject:
Human resource management (Case studies)
Authors:
Paul, Robert J.
Seeberger, Kathryn
Pub Date:
03/22/2002
Publication:
Name: Review of Business Publisher: St. John's University, College of Business Administration Audience: General; Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business; Business, general Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2002 St. John's University, College of Business Administration ISSN: 0034-6454
Issue:
Date: Spring, 2002 Source Volume: 23 Source Issue: 2
Product:
Product Code: 9911000 Management Theory & Techniques
Geographic:
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States

Accession Number:
87211790
Full Text:
Employers looking to eliminate "problem employees" may take actions that put their company at risk. An employee who quits may still claim that his/her employer made working conditions intolerable. This article explores how employers can avoid the danger of "constructive discharge" litigation by practicing good human resource management.

Introduction

Supervisors often assume that when an employee resigns, the company is "off the hook" -- i.e., there will be no employee lawsuits to recover post-resignation economic damages. An employer may heave a sigh of relief when a troublesome employee turns in his or her resignation. There is a feeling of security. After all, the employee quit voluntarily, so there should be no basis for wrongful discharge litigation.

Not always true. In fact, employees who tender their own resignation can -- and do -- sue their employers after the fact when they believe that they were forced to leave by that employer's actions. The argument is legally known as "constructive discharge" and it's causing headaches for many companies that thought they were off the hook.

Constructive discharge can cover a variety of employee complaints stemming from alleged unfair labor practices, discrimination under Equal Employment Opportunity laws or violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (27). If constructive discharge is proven, the penalties can be severe, including back pay and damages to compensate for the employee's loss of future earnings from the job (based on remaining work years and how long it will take to find a similar job). Penalties can also include attorney's fees, and even compensatory damages for pain and suffering or mental distress. In addition to compensatory damage, courts may award "punitive damages" -- intended to punish an employer for wrongful behavior. Punitive damages can run into millions of dollars, so they're not something to be taken lightly (Wilson v. Monarch Paper Co., 1991).

This paper reviews literature, legislation and current court rulings on constructive discharge. It is designed to inform employers and their agents about events that may lead to post-employment litigation and how to avoid this situation. A good rule of thumb is to practice fair and just treatment of all employees, continuously upgrade working conditions, document performance, use good communication, provide grievance procedures and educate managers -- i.e., practice good human resource management.

While constructive discharge is not a new phenomenon, current laws and court logic make employee claims more likely and easier to win than ever before. In short, this is a subject few companies can afford to ignore (14).

Constructive Discharge -- By Definition

Constructive discharge involves forcing an employee out of a job with an ultimatum to either resign or face one of several unpleasant consequences -- for example, demotion, reassignment or intolerable working conditions (33). Constructive discharge is a "tort" or civil wrong that generally occurs when there is a legal basis preventing the employee from being discharged openly (i.e., a contract or collective bargaining agreement) (23).

To prevail on claims of constructive discharge, employees must demonstrate that their employers deliberately made working conditions intolerable, forcing them to quit (14). Specifically, the former employee must charge and prove two elements to be entitled to future compensatory damages: 1) the "deliberateness" of the employer's actions; and 2) the "intolerability" of the working conditions.

There is a large measure of judgment involved in court decisions regarding constructive discharge, and each of the elements is highly subjective. Courts, however, have established - and are continuing to establish - guidelines around the areas of deliberateness and intolerability, which will be explored now.

Deliberateness

The Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal are divided about what an employee must show to prove the deliberateness of an employer's actions. A minority of these courts (specifically, the Fourth and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeal) requires that in addition to intolerable working conditions, the employee must show that his/her employer's activities were deliberately intended to force the employee to quit This introduces a large element of subjectivity - increasing the burden of proof for employees and providing a substantial advantage for employers.

The element of deliberateness varies by case and state. In some states, the burden of proof is tougher than others. That is, the employee has to prove that working conditions were so intolerable that he/she was forced to quit Also that the employer knew the effect of the unbearable actions and conditions, and could have remedied them but chose not to (27). In some cases, the employee even has to show that the employer created or knowingly permitted the intolerable working conditions. Largely due to its subjective characteristics, the concept of deliberateness has been under attack for many years (3,11).

The following is a look at a few court rulings and landmark decisions that have shaped the course of constructive discharge over the past decade...

Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 1994. James Turner worked for Anheuser-Busch, Inc. (ABI), where he had received "good" performance evaluations except for a single December 1984 review. Turner asserted that he was subjected to a "campaign of harassment," including being reassigned to a different department, after he informed his superior that other employees had violated state liquor laws, internal company policies and provisions of the collective bargaining agreement.

Four years later, Turner received a "needs improvement"' on his evaluation, which he challenged. A few days after that, Turner resigned and filed an action against ABI, claiming discrimination, constructive wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, breach of contract, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The Court of Appeals allowed only the public policy claim to proceed, ruling that the long list of ABI's alleged wrongful actions represented a triable case of constructive discharge. The California Supreme Court recognized that in an attempt to avoid wrongful discharge liability, an employer may refrain from actually firing an employee, "preferring instead to engage in conduct causing him or her to quit."

The court ruled that such a constructive discharge is legally regarded as a "firing," rather than a "resignation," when: "1) the employee is forced to resign due to actions and conditions so intolerable or aggravated at the time of the employee's resignation that a reasonable employer would have realized that a reasonable person in the employee's position would have been compelled to resign; and 2) the employer or its effective representatives, such as officers, directors, managing agents or supervisory employees, had actual knowledge of the intolerable actions and conditions and their impact on the employee, and could have remedied the situation but did not."

This ruling is a departure from earlier decisions of the California Courts of Appeal, which held that mere constructive knowledge of the intolerable working conditions could justify an employee's resignation as a constructive discharge. Based on the new rules, the court found that Turner failed to show a constructive wrongful discharge. That's because there was no evidence that Turner's job was made so intolerable that a reasonable person in his position would have felt compelled to resign. The court, accordingly, upheld summary judgment in favor of dismissing Turner's claims.

Martin v. Cavalier Hotel Corp., 1995. The plaintiff in Martin alleged that her immediate supervisor (the general manager and vice president of Cavalier Hotel Corp. and a member of its board of directors) engaged in outrageous and repeated acts of sexual misconduct Martin testified that she submitted to Daniel Batchelor's demands because "when he tells you to do something, you do it or else." After five years of employment, she ultimately decided that she "couldn't handle what he was doing" and resigned.

Martin then filed a multiple count complaint against both Cavalier and Batchelor, seeking to recover economic emotional distress damages. Martin also alleged that she was constructively discharged as a result of sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The jury found in favor of Martin (against Batchelor) on her state common law claim of assault and battery, and also in favor of Martin (against Cavalier this time) on her claim of constructive discharge.

Cavalier appealed - trying to reverse the trial court's decision based on the Fourth Circuit's adherence to the minority view. Cavalier asserted that Martin had proven that working conditions were "intolerable," but not that Cavalier "intended" she resign. Cavalier argued, rather, that the evidence demonstrated that Batchelor "desired Martin to remain employed at the hotel so that he could continue to assault her ..."

Once again, the court ruled in favor of Martin.

This more recent interpretation of the element of deliberateness (employer intent) adopted a "reasonably foreseeable consequence" standard (Martin v. Cavalier Hotel Corp., 1995). This standard was based on court holdings that an employer may create an "inference that it was attempting to force the plaintiff to resign" (Paroline v. Unisys Corp., 1989) and that "if the plaintiffs resignation was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the employer's actions, those actions were necessarily taken with the intention of forcing the employee to quit" (Hukkanen v. International Union of Operating Engineers, 1993; Martin v. Cavalier Hotel Corp., 1995).

It is significant to note that the Martin ruling was made by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which traditionally had required both the deliberateness and intolerability elements to prove constructive discharge. Thus, the Martin case represents a significant change in court interpretation, concluding that specific, direct evidence of employer intent is not required to prove the "deliberateness" of an employer's actions.

Hukkanen v. International Union of Operating Engineers. The Martin court then discussed Hukkanen v. International Union of Operating Engineers, which also adheres to the minority view. Like Martin, Hukkanen was a sexual harassment case, involving "similar though less egregious facts" in that the supervisor "only threatened to rape" the plaintiff. Like the employer in Martin, Hukkanen argued that the supervisor's actions were not intended to force the plaintiff to resign but, instead, were "intended to extract some sort of sexual favor from the plaintiff or to provide a perverse sort of amusement." The Eighth Circuit rejected this argument as "bizarre."

The Hukkanen court thus concluded that the plaintiff had produced sufficient evidence that her resignation was the "reasonably foreseeable consequence" of the employer's conduct. In other words, the plaintiff had demonstrated the requisite employer intent.

Deliberateness: It's a Judgment Call. If there's one conclusion that can be reached by all of the court rulings outlined above it's this: Deliberateness is a judgment call made by the court Factors taken into consideration include: Do all or most workers on a specific job receive equal treatment? Should the employer have foreseen that employees would not tolerate a given situation? Was the employer (or should the employer have been) aware of the situation? Was the situation brought to the employer's attention? What did the employer do, and when, after being made aware of the "intolerable situation"?

Intolerability

A majority of the Circuit Courts of Appeal focuses exclusively on the employee. They apply a "reasonableness standard" in deciding whether an employer created an intolerable work condition that forced an employee to quit; and in deciding whether a "reasonable" person m the employee's position would feel compelled to resign (14), (Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 1994).

As mentioned earlier, the California Supreme Court has required that the intolerable working condition element also take into account whether the employer had actual knowledge of the intolerable conditions and their impact on the employee, and could have remedied the situation but did not (17).

Intolerability is still a judgment call. But judging the intolerability of a work situation using a "reasonableness" standard is the courts' attempt to make constructive discharge decisions more objective. The standard also removes the irrational distinction among victims of discrimination (who feel compelled to quit), those whose employers want them to quit and those whose employers create or permit equally intolerable conditions but do not want them to quit (Martin v. Cavalier Hotel Corp, 1995).

Recent legislation in at least one state shows how constructive litigation is definitely employee-focused. Arizona recently passed a law making it unnecessary for employees to quit their jobs in order to get an intolerable situation corrected (29). In addition, employers will no longer be surprised by lawsuits filed by former employees claiming they were forced by their company to quit their jobs. That's because, under the new law, employers will have to inform their workers of the provisions of constructive discharge legislation. Employees will be required to give their employers a 15-day written notice of the problem, and the employer will have another 15 days to take appropriate action. If employees are not satisfied with the company's response and still feel forced to quit by intolerable work conditions, they can file a lawsuit claiming constructive discharge. The law also allows employees to quit and sue without the 15-day notice if they believe intolerable working conditions warrant quitting immediatel y (29).

Workplace Justice

"Workplace justice" literature, another facet of constructive discharge, can be divided into two approaches -- observer responses to the event itself and observer responses to the administrative action taken by the agent (8,28).

The first approach is concerned with "retributive justice," or the degree to which the observer believes the violation deserves punishment (8). The observers' desire to seek retribution will depend greatly on the degree to which they attribute responsibility to the violator.

The second approach includes judgments of "distributive justice" (the fairness of the degree or magnitude of reward or punishment) and "procedural justice" (the fairness of the process by which a plan is designed and implemented) (8). Procedural justice can be subdivided into perceptions of the formal procedures and "interactional justice" (fairness in the treatment of others) (30).

An employer who creates or permits continually intolerable working conditions violates three levels of justice: procedural, distributive and interactional. This is true whether or not that employer is ever taken to court (1,6).

No matter what form it takes, workplace justice is a serious matter, posing ethical and moral issues. But even beyond these, employers who practice justice in the workplace will reap significant benefits (5,7,26,). These could include: retaining qualified and productive employees, and minimizing the risk of constructive discharge claims.

Like other issues surrounding constructive discharge, however, workplace justice is a two-way street and more complex than it may appear. For example, employers often feel justified when they encourage a disruptive or troublesome employee to quit since constraints of other laws prevent letting these employees go in a more direct way. On the other hand, employees who are passed over for promotion, training or a pay increase -- or are subjected to deserved discipline -- may quit and bring a suit of constructive discharge to gain redress for a perceived injustice (Molsness v. City of Walla Walla, 1996). Both employer and employee may feel they are simply seeking to restore justice in the workplace in these situations.

Molsness v. City of Walla Walla - A 'Perceived Injustice.' A Washington State court ruled that a city engineer who resigned so that he would not be fired had no claim against the city for wrongful termination.

John R. Molsness became city engineer for Walla Walla, Wash., in 1987. His immediate supervisor was the city's public works director, Duane Scroggins. Molsness and Scroggins had various conflicts and, on February 18, 1992, Scroggins sent Molsness a memo, asking for his resignation.

The memo mentioned Molsness' alleged "deficiencies" in communication skills and asked Molsness to submit a letter of resignation. "If not, I am prepared to take action," Scroggins wrote. The memo concluded by praising Molsness' "many good, strong technical points" and stating that Scroggins "would just as soon part amicably and provide you with a positive recommendation."

In January 1994, Molsness filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging he was forced to resign and that this amounted to "constructive discharge."

Both the Washington trial court and the state Court of Appeals ruled against Molsness. The appellate court stated: "Mr. Molsness' resignation is not rendered involuntary simply because he submitted it to avoid termination for cause, nor is it relevant that he subjectively believed he had no choice but to resign His resignation was voluntary unless he can demonstrate that Mr. Scroggins knew or believed that the threatened termination could not be substantiated.

"Although his affidavit implies the threat was pretextual, Mr. Molsness does not directly dispute the allegation that he lacked the communication skills necessary for the position," the court added. "His speculation is not enough."

Good Faith and Fair Dealing: Another Aspect of Workplace Justice. Some courts have followed the doctrine of "implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing," arguing that implied in every employment contract is a duty of good faith and fair dealing in its performance and enforcement (2,12). Thus, the legal, ethical, economic and moral issues involved in constructive discharge can be discussed in the framework of workplace justice or, more specifically, violation of psychological and implied contracts with employees

Psychological Contracts. Psychological contracts are defined as expectations about the reciprocal obligations that make up the employee/employer relationship. More specifically, they are sets of beliefs about what each party is entitled to receive, and is obligated to give, in exchange for the other party's contribution (101).

When either party perceives that the other has failed to fulfill one or more of the obligations of the psychological contract, there is a perceived breach or violation. Research suggests that this violation involves a strong emotional experience or "feelings of betrayal and deeper psychological distress," resulting in anger, resentment, a sense of injustice and wrongful harm, as well as a desire to bring suit against the employer (24).

Additional research shows that violations of psychological contracts have a negative impact on employee behavior, including citizenship behavior (21); revenge or retaliation; sabotage, theft or other aggressive actions (4,18,19,).

Violating psychological contracts can also lead to litigation -- such as constructive discharge -- which can cost the organization a lot of money and damage its public image (13), (Wilson v. Monarch Paper Co., 1991). One of the keys to maintaining a just workplace and avoiding such damages is to develop and manage employee psychological contracts effectively.

Implied Contracts. Implied contracts are mutual obligations that exist at the level of a particular relationship -- for example, between two people or within an organization. They are patterns of obligations that start at the level of the parties, but branch out to include the relationship's broader social structure -- for example, the surrounding legal or cultural environment Courts and the general public usually view these contracts as arising from the conditions of long-term employment and repeated cycles of exchange that are observable to outsiders (Paroline v. Unisys Corp., 1989). Simply put, long-term employment gives rise to mutual obligations of loyalty and allows others to predict the parties' future interactions based on their past dealings (24,25).

Red Flag Situations - Typical Constructive Discharge Fare

A review of court cases, arbitration rulings and workplace situations reveals that "red flag" events are frequently involved in constructive discharge claims. These laws and rulings originally addressed other issues, but have been applied to constructive discharge suits as well. A brief review can provide a cautionary note for both employers and employees:

The National Labor Relations Act This law (Section 8(a) (3)) prohibits an employer from acting to encourage or discourage membership in labor organizations. Thus, an employer must not retaliate against employees who are active in, or supportive of; union activity. Forcing these employees to quit by placing them in intolerable work situations would normally be considered constructive discharge (Ivers v. American Potash & Chemical Company, 1938).

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This section of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, color or national origin. Any attempt to encourage members of a protected group to quit through unjustified differential treatment would violate this law and may be considered constructive discharge (Young v. Southwestern Savings & Loan Association, 1975).

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This law prohibits discrimination based on age. It protects workers over 40 years old. Often such workers are highly paid because of experience and seniority. Cost cuffing policies might suggest reducing the number of highly paid workers. Although terminating such workers without valid exemptions is not addressed by ADEA, it has been rejected by the courts if "the intent and effect is to eliminate workers who have built up, through years of satisfactory service, higher salaries than their younger counterparts" (Metz v. Transit Mix, Inc., 1987).

The Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act of 1978. This law provides that employees be viewed as having been dismissed if they terminate their employment contract, with or without notice, because of the employer's conduct Employees can, therefore, claim constructive discharge if they resign when their employer threatens to terminate the employment contract by due notice if they refuse to agree to a change in employment conditions (Wiles v. Greenaway Harrison, Ltd., 1994).

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA prohibits discrimination in employment matters on the basis of disability. If an employee develops or exacerbates a disability that requires reasonable accommodations -- and the employer responds by forcing that person to quit -- that could very likely be considered constructive discharge (EEOC v. MC Security, 1993).

Recommendations

As we've seen in this paper, constructive discharge situations are normally precipitated by constraints -- constraints that legally hamper an employer's ability to terminate employees. The problem is: These laws don't always clarify what constitutes satisfactory job performance and which behaviors warrant dismissal. And they certainly can't always rectify the discrepancy between what an employee and employer might perceive to be acceptable -- or unacceptable -- behavior. That's the bad news.

The good news is that there are courses of action you, as an employer, can take to address constructive discharge issues and avoid costly claims. Although it may not be possible to prevent employees from suing, there are steps you can take to reduce the incidence of and/or strengthen defenses against a constructive discharge claim. We've grouped these actions into two broad categories: Strengthening defenses and managing expectations (with some of the recommendations applying to both categories) ([14,27]).

Strengthening Defenses:

Educate Managers About Constructive Discharge. Be sure that all managers understand that they must not take any action designed to force an employee to quit

Lobby for Legislative Change. As mentioned earlier in this paper, at least one state (Arizona) has passed a law requiring employers to inform their employees of the provisions of constructive discharge. This law promotes awareness and sets the stage for mutual problem solving. With enough lobbying and concern, more states may pass similar legislation.

Establish a Formal Grievance Process and Communicate It. This gives employees a channel for airing complaints before they decide to quit In addition, failure to take advantage of grievance procedures will count against an employee later if he or she quits and claims it was really constructive discharge.

Investigate All Employee Complaints. If an employee's complaints are deemed valid, be sure to rectify the problems to head off future lawsuits. If they are not rectified, explain why your company operates as it does in the area in question. If employees are still not satisfied, attempt to settle the problem through an ombudsman, a peer-review process or mediation.

Document All Adverse Decisions. Managers should be trained to write down their reasons for all adverse decisions and to document that the employees involved were advised of these reasons.

Discipline Employees for Unsatisfactory Work. Employees who aren't aware of performance problems might argue that their employer harassed them for non-business-related reasons. To avoid misunderstanding, specify the behavior or performance problem that needs to be corrected (a carefully written job description will help) and document employees' performance reviews. This will support the position that any discipline is work-related.

Don't Change Wages, Hours or Conditions of Employment To Induce an Employee To Resign. If an employee's behavior is unsatisfactory, follow formally established policies and procedures for disciplining and discharging workers.

Don't Threaten To Fire an Employee Unless There Is Just Cause ... and Unless You're Willing To Really Do It! Empty threats rarely prove effective in deterring poor performance or behavior. Employees will recognize them as meaningless and personally hurtful. As a result, they may be more inclined to sue.

Request a Letter of Resignation. Employees who quit will find it more difficult to claim that they were fired at a later date. Have them specify their reasons for quitting in a formal resignation letter. This documentation will help fortify the employer's position if an employee claims in court that he or she quit for a different reason. (Be aware, however, that the employee might still claim that the letter was signed under duress.)

Require Witnessed Exit Interviews of All Employees and Record Them. If an employee quits with hard feelings about working conditions, you still may able to iron out any differences before the employee becomes aggravated enough to file a lawsuit. Don't try to talk an employee out of quitting. The record will support your defense if the employee claims, in court, a different reason for quitting than the one offered in the exit interview.

The Best Advice: Deal with Employees Fairly and Honestly. As always, you should treat all employees with dignity and respect Allow them to air grievances, correct problems with working conditions and discipline them fairly for unsatisfactory work. Do not attempt to encourage a problem employee to leave by making his or her life miserable. It could backfire and make your life miserable.

Manage Expectations:

Managers can promote, demote, transfer and discipline employees when warranted by job behavior. There is sometimes a fine line, however, between appropriate managerial action and behavior that is "so unbearable that a reasonable person would feel compelled to quit" Judgment in such cases may be based largely on the subjective expectations of the parties involved. Managing expectations, therefore, can be important in reducing claims of constructive discharge. Some approaches to managing expectations follow:

Realistic Job Previews (RJPs). One way to address unrealistic expectations is to use RJPs (32) - presenting the newcomer with an accurate preview of the new job and employer, so that his/her expectations will be closer to reality. A reasonable match may reduce perceptions of unfulfilled promises. Candid, frequent discussions, not limited to the time of hire, can also clarify and update obligations and expectations.

Orientation. Help employees deal with stress; help them understand their own and their employer's obligations (32).

Periodic Employee Opinion Surveys.

Using open-end survey questions that elicit employee interpretations of company practices can provide useful insights. You can clear up misunderstandings, and you may be able to revise certain policies based on points of contention. A committee made up of employees and managers should analyze the survey so there can be no charge of "cooking the books." You should also discuss survey results with all employees in open meetings.

Periodic Focus Groups. Discussion groups composed of 6-10 individuals maybe useful (15). You may want to focus your discussion on specific issues concerning the employment relationship, but set aside time for "what's on your mind" discussions too. Discussion group membership should represent various contingencies with their different backgrounds and perspectives.

Training Interviewers and Public Relations People. People who interview prospective employees and people who convey the image of your company to the public are very powerful people. Train them to make sure they send the messages you want to send, and create the perceptions you want to create. Careful training, structure and guidance can help control messages you send and influence how they are perceived.

No False Promises in Your Publications.

Employer publications are a basis for employee expectations and a standard for comparison between expectations and reality. Exercise extreme care to ensure that these publications do not create false expectations, perceptions of unfairness or, worse yet, a basis for legal action (24).

Clear, Continuous Communication. Honest, clear communication is a must Employees are normally willing to accept change when they understand why it is necessary - especially when they are kept informed and understand that there is no better way to proceed. Employers should acknowledge earlier promises and attempt to compensate in other ways, whenever possible, when they can't fulfill these promises. What's more, it's to your benefit -- and your employees' -- to communicate anticipated changes that involve the employment relationship as far in advance as possible.

Conclusion

Constructive discharge may involve a number of employee claims against the employer. Such claims normally stem from alleged unfair treatment by the employer and, if proven, can be very costly. Normally such claims arise when an employer is prevented from terminating an employee by some form of contractual or legal constraint. Confronted with such constraints, an employer may engage in activities intended to force a problem employee to quit. And if an employee is forced to quit, the courts may not consider his/her action voluntary.

Although divided on certain issues, the courts basically require two elements of proof in constructive discharge claims: deliberateness (the employer intended to force the employee to quit) and intolerability (the employer created a work condition so intolerable that a reasonable person would have felt forced to quit). Most courts, however, require only the intolerability test, and even the minority that have traditionally required both elements appear to be moving away from the requirement of deliberateness.

Workplace justice is a key factor in constructive discharge court rulings. This concept applies equally to employers and employees. It is unjust for an employer to construct an intolerable work situation for an employee in an effort to force him/her to quit. It is equally unjust for an employee who is passed over for some organizational reward to quit and later claim constructive discharge. The implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing applies to both parties.

Different workplace justice perspectives generally arise from different expectations concerning the employment relationship or the psychological contract. In addition, there are several laws, written to address other issues, that constrain employer activities and set the stage for constructive discharge claims.

The courses of action we recommend for avoiding constructive discharge claims include educating employees about the law, lobbying for change, formalizing and communicating grievance procedures, investigating complaints, and appropriately disciplining and managing expectations. In short, your best practice is to follow good human resource practices that promote workplace justice and good faith relationships.

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(33.) Weiss, D. "Fair, Square and Legal: Safe Hiring, Managing and Firing Practices To Keep You and Your Company out of Court." New York: AMACOM, 1995.

Cases Cited

EEOC v. AIC Security, 820 F. Supp. 1060 (N.D. Ill. 1993).

Hukkanen v. International Union of Operating Engineers, 3F. 3rd 281 (8th Cir. 1993).

Ivers v. American Potash & Chemical Company 3 N.L.R.B. 410 (1937), enforced, 98 F. 2d 488 (9th Cir. 1938).

Martin v. Cavalier Hotel Corp., 48 F.3rd 1343 (4th Cir. 1995).

Metz v. Transit Mix, Inc., 828 F. 2nd 1202 (7th Cir. 1987).

Molsness v. City of Walla Walla , 928 P. 2nd 1108 (Wash App. 1996)

Paroline v. Unisys Corp., 879 F.2nd 100 (4th Cir. 1989).

Turner v. Anheuser-Busch. Inc. Cal. 4th 94 Daily Journal DAR 10373 July 25, (1994).

Wiles v. Greenaway Harrison, Ltd. Sol IRLB 2 (1994).

Wilson v. Monarch Paper Co., 939 F.2d1138, (5th Cir.) 1991.

Young v. Southwestern Savings & Loan Association, 509 F.2nd 140 (5th Cir. 1975).
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