what is this called and what can be done about it?
July 8, 2016 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Is there a term for a certain practice: that of trying to get longtime, well-paid employees to either quit or get fired, through excessive enforcement of regulations or creating a generally hostile enviornment. (I know through a reliable source that this is a practice at my workplace, even though we are unionized). (those of you who know where I work, please do not mention it by name, thanks)
posted by jonmc to Work & Money (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think the term you want is constructive dismissal.
posted by magicbus at 3:55 PM on July 8, 2016 [25 favorites]


I have heard it called "cleaning house" or "house cleaning" at a job where I and others were subject to this practice. very different type of industry FWIW
posted by supermedusa at 3:56 PM on July 8, 2016


Constructive dismissal. I discovered that it's perfectly legal in British Columbia.
posted by My Dad at 3:58 PM on July 8, 2016


Generally speaking, it's a form of harassment by creating hostile working conditions. If you quit your job as a result, that's “constructive discharge.” However, unless you were asked to do anything illegal, you may not have grounds to sue them for it.
What Is Constructive Dismissal?

Most states recognize the legal concept of constructive dismissal, in which an employee quits because the working conditions have become so intolerable that he or she can no longer work for the employer. Even though the employee voluntarily quit, the employee had no reasonable alternative because of the intolerable working conditions.

The employee's resignation is overlooked for legal purposes because the employment relationship was in effect terminated involuntarily by the employer's conduct. In this situation, the resignation is treated as a firing. If the employer's actions constitute unlawful conduct or a breach of an express or implied employment contract, the employee may have a claim for wrongful constructive dismissal.

Elements of a Constructive Dismissal Claim

An employee can't simply quit and claim that he or she was constructively dismissed. For example, California requires an employee to prove that:

1) His or her working environment was so unusually adverse that a reasonable employee in his or her position would have felt compelled to resign,
and
2) The employer either intended to force such resignation or had actual knowledge of the intolerable working conditions.

An employee claiming to have been constructively dismissed must show that the conditions giving rise to the resignation were sufficiently extraordinary and egregious to overcome the normal motivation of a competent and reasonable employee to remain on the job.

Generally, a continuing pattern of extraordinary and egregious conduct is required before an employee's resignation will be considered a constructive dismissal. A single negative evaluation or other isolated acts don't typically establish intolerable or unusually adverse employment conditions. However, in severe situations, a single act, such as a crime of violence by the employer against an employee or the employer's requirement that an employee commit a crime, may be enough to constitute unusually adverse conditions.

posted by zarq at 3:59 PM on July 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


This sounds similar to the rubber room.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 4:53 PM on July 8, 2016


US law isn't consistent, but in general to argue constructive dismissal, a coworker would need to show

a documented pattern of behaviour (if you are in a work at will state, it unfortunately must be illegal behaviour) which

you tried to resolve with management
would be obviously intolerable to a reasonable coworker
and which directly triggered the resignation

If you think this is going on but below the threshold of illegal, then I would go to the Union for help. They may not have teeth, but they may have ideas.
posted by frumiousb at 5:23 PM on July 8, 2016


If you're thinking about something less extreme, like if you're being pushed out the door, this article speaks to some things employers might do.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:53 PM on July 8, 2016


Often, it's called ageism.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:11 PM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


@My Dad: Not actually true. For searchers: "British Columbia".

http://www.bcemployerlaw.com/termination/constructive-dismissal-termination/
posted by demagogue at 5:39 AM on July 9, 2016


I've heard managers who have done this refer to it as "performance managing" people out, which makes them feel better about doing what they know is wrong, I suspect.
posted by lettezilla at 12:19 PM on July 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


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