Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Lisa Banks was quoted in the Huffington Post article, “People Get Fired From Their Jobs Without Being ‘Fired’ All the Time.”
Presidential nominee Elizabeth Warren made news when she spoke about being fired from a public teaching job in 1971 when she became pregnant. A conservative news outlet later published evidence that Warren was not fired, but rather resigned.
The exact terminology of ‘fired’ vs. ‘forced to resigned’ is often irrelevant in employment discrimination cases. Legally, “constructive discharge” – when an employer intentionally makes work so inhospitable to an employee because of her protected class that resigning is the only reasonable choice – can be considered the same as termination.
“The employer doesn’t want to actually fire somebody and leave their fingerprints on the adverse actions,” explains Ms. Banks. “So they make the circumstances of the job so unpleasant that [the employee is] left with no option other than to quit.”
In today’s era, employers are usually aware of laws that prevent them from firing a worker because she is pregnant, or belongs to another protected class, and therefore some companies try to get creative to mask their illegal conduct.
“We rarely have a smoking gun anymore,” added Ms. Banks. “Employers tend to be savvy enough not to state outright the discriminatory motives for their termination.”
Unfortunately, employment discrimination still affects thousands of workers a year, and cases like Ms. Warren’s stress the need for stronger laws that protect employees from discrimination.
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