Harassment in the workplace can make every day a challenge, and many people may be tempted to quit their job simply to relieve this stress. Should they quit?
You first need to determine if the harassment is illegal or just a bad employment situation.
Illegal harassment is that based on either protected status, such as sexual or racial harassment, or harassment in response to protected conduct, such as opposing discrimination and advocating for pay or working conditions that affect others in addition to yourself.
Quitting shifts the legal burden to you.
While it is possible in rare situations for employees to argue that conditions in their workplace were so onerous that no reasonable employee could withstand them and you thus were forced them to quit, a situation called “constructive discharge.” However, staying in your position could be a better option legally.
Your legal options may depend on following employer procedures.
In order to hold your employer legally responsible for the harassment you experience in the workplace, you must generally give your employer the opportunity to correct the issue. In fact, businesses can avoid liability if they take reasonable actions and if you do not engage with their attempts to prevent or correct the issue internally. Leaving your position without using those reporting procedures could make it more difficult to take legal action. Striking examples include sexual harassment from a co-worker or the need for a disability accommodation of FMLA which is not brought to the employer’s attention.
Staying in your position can ensure that you have key evidence.
Creating a record of your negative experiences in the workplace provides important support to your case. Keeping a copy of your written report to your employer, your employer’s response and any harassing messages you receive can help you show what you have experienced and how your employer handled it. Staying in your position ensures that you maintain your access to your internal email, internal messaging services and other documentation, including electronically recording conversations and meetings.
You may have other options.
Even if your employer has made up their mind to terminate your position, you may still have options. For example, an attorney could help you negotiate a severance with your employer, allowing you to leave your position and have a stronger financial position as you begin the next step of your career. This option might be more difficult to pursue if you have already left the company.
If your workplace has become hostile, you may want to discuss your case with an attorney. They can help you determine whether quitting is the best course of action and help you protect your rights no matter what option is right for your situation.
Finally, even if resignation is the best course, an attorney can assist you to draft the resignation in a manner most supportive to your case.