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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012

    Exclamation When Can You Claim Constructive or Retaliatory Discharge

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Georgia

    Hello, I have recently had to quit my job due to increasing harassment and destruction of property at my workplace. I have filed police reports for both the stolen items (hand tools-October) and the damage to my vehicle and work shoes being filled with a tire bead sealer (tar-like substance-November 17th) with DeKalb Police before the attempt to terminate me came on November 19th, at which time I reminded the district (NAME OMITTED) and store manager (NAME OMITTED) they were not following company protocol, and that suspension for the alleged violations was being bypassed. The same district manager (NAME OMITTED) was named by me in a phone meeting with the owner of the company (NAME OMITTED, NAME OMITTED Enterprises) for buying illegal substances from a general service technician (NAME OMITTED), also to let him know the store and its employees were operating without consequence for threats to me by the same Technician (NAME OMITTED) and generally unsafe and unprofessional. I Filed with OSHA for wrongful termination attempt that Monday (November 19th) and was told if I had allowed them to terminate me, they could follow through with whistleblower preceedings. I took my 3-day suspension, was off for Thanksgiving, and showed up with a tow truck Friday morning to pick up my toolbox and quit due to feeling unsafe, and generally harassed to the point of quitting. I received a letter from OSHA (with the response from my previous employer stating no evidence was found of my harassment or threats to me, and that the matter had been resolved as far as OSHA was concerned) I feel they are expecting me to just go away and let this pass, which bothers me greatly.

    Thank you for your time, any information or advice greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Default Re: Constructive Discharge (Resulting in Quitting)

    Not clear why you did that "name omitted" stuff all over, but ... never mind.

    Ultimately, whatever company protocol is, they'd be free to terminate you as a matter of law for no reason. Unclear why you didn't just let that happen, given you say now you quit.

    I'm not clear what OSHA would have to do with your job, and you don't say. You also don't say what OSHA violations you complained about to OSHA that would raise the spectre of whistleblower protection. (I presume the employer is under OSHA oversight in whatever respect, and that you reported X illegal behavior, but please note that some manager buying an "illegal substance" from a technician wouldn't fall under OSHA's purview regardless as far as I can see.)

    "Thank you for your time, any information or advice greatly appreciated. "

    You haven't asked a question, so it's unclear what you want to know.

    Only issue I can come up with is that you may file and fight for unemployment benefits and saying that you quit because no reasonable person would have stuck around a moment longer. Given the state of most states' unemployment funds, however, and the likelihood that job will lie about gross or willful misconduct, you may not win that fight.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012

    Default Re: When Can You Claim Constructive or Retaliatory Discharge

    I appreciate the response.

    My main concern was that I jeopardized any chance of the OSHA whistleblower investigation going further because I could not function in such an environment any longer. I have received a call from the duty officer for that division of OSHA right after the investigation started, and another weeks after from the office verifying the situation pertaining to the threat of physical violence not pursued or acted upon by management, along with the multiple police interventions that I mainly used to establish a pattern of behavior by this particular employee, and the (lack of) response again from supervisors. On the second call they did inform me that even the suspension can be considered detrimental behavior (retaliation) for exposing the activities of various employees there, (I.E. any loss of hours/pay etc if it were done in response to contacting the owner/Police/OSHA etc..)

    EDIT: OSHA (to my understanding) controls whistleblower investigations for unlawful termination, even if not regarding health hazards. The letter I received was from the department of labor)

    I don't have a real clear understanding of right to work states, or of protected/unprotected actions by companies/individual employees pertaining to knowingly witholding information from investigations. (Store manager ignoring me and not allowing me to view security video to see where my tools went, and only allowing me to do so after going over their head to the Operations manager of the company, by which time two of the three days I was on vacation were purged from the storage system.) -I have a criminal case numberfor the theft of my property, and case number for the damage to my vehicle/shoes.

    I do understand the lack of physical evidence, and the fact that my hands are (more) tied now that I bailed... I just wanted to ask people much more in the know than myself if I had any recourse aside from being glad I'm out of there, and moving on with my life.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Default Re: When Can You Claim Constructive or Retaliatory Discharge

    Right to work means that you do not have to join a union to get work. It has nothing to do with your situation. 49 out of 50 states (and sometimes the 50th state, which is not yours) are employment at will states, meaning that the employee can quit at any time and for any reason, and the employer can fire you at any time and for any reason that does not violate the law.

    You are not correct that OSHA investigates all whistleblower investigations. OSHA is responsible for health and safety issues, period.

    Based SOLELY on what you have posted, I'm not seeing any claim for wrongful termination. If you want to give us more detail about what actions you are terming as "harassment" and which whistle you blew, it is possible that the answer may change.

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