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Quitting your job – common questions
WARNING – There are major traps possibly in store for you if you QUIT without legal advice. You could destroy or severly weaken whatever potential case you may have. Please see my Constructive Discharge article for a much more detailed presentation of the things you might need to consider if you want to quit your job and sue.
As a general rule, it is unwise to quit your job before you get legal advice.
There are legal doctrines that often require that before you quit you must complain to upper management, or to human resources, or to some other designated manager at work, and give the employer a chance to stop the mistreatment before you quit. Your lawyer will work with you on how to make a proper and effective complaint about the mistreatment. During the complaint process, both what you say, and also what you do not say, will be used against you later on in court if you need to sue over the mistreatment. Please see my constructive discharge article for a much more detailed presentation of the things you might need to consider if you want to quit your job and sue.
If you quit your job without getting legal advice, you run a fairly high risk that you will severely weaken whatever case you might have had. Under some laws, you might not even be able to collect any damages for the alleged mistreatment if you quit. The amount of damages available is one of the factors in determining whether you have a worthwhile case. Please see my constructive discharge article for a much more detailed presentation of the things you might need to consider if you want to quit your job and sue.
An alternative to immediately quitting might be to take a vacation or personal day and call some lawyers, if you are not out of vacation or personal time. But if you are out of such time, you might get fired for missing work that day, so maybe a different approach is better. You could have your spouse call lawyers for you, to make the initial contact and explain your circumstances. The lawyer might be willing to relay some simple advice through the caller, or at least set up a time when you and the lawyer can talk. Please see my constructive discharge article for a much more detailed presentation of the things you might need to consider if you want to quit your job and sue.
It all depends on the circumstances and the type of case involved. If you made a proper and effective complaint to the employer before you quit, and the employer unreasonably failed to fix the problem, then you may not have done any damage to your potential case, and you may in fact have strengthened your potential case.
Also, maybe the nature of the problem is one of the circumstances where no prior complaint to the employer is required before it is justifiable that you immediately quit your job.
But don’t be surprised if lawyers appear initially somewhat skeptical of your case when you call, at least until the lawyer obtains enough details to be comfortable. One of the most disappointing types of calls I get is the one where the person says “I quit my job today and I want to sue ‘em.” Most of the time, people quit before taking the right steps, and they might have greatly weakened whatever case they might have had.
Please see my constructive discharge article for a much more detailed presentation of the potential problems you might have to face in court due to your decision to quit.
Don’t quit without getting legal advice first.
If you already quit, a lawyer might be able to help you anyway. All is not lost.
Article written by | Tim Willoughby
Maintained by Attorney Phil Willoughby
Founded by Tim Willoughby, Esq. (1959-2013)
Phil is a Missouri employment lawyer who is licensed to practice in Kansas and Missouri, and primarily takes cases in Saint Louis and Kansas City. He is a member of the Missouri Bar Association and Kansas Bar Association. Additionally, he has practiced in the United States Federal Courts of Missouri in St. Louis and Kansas City. He has also practiced in the Kansas Federal District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.
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