Constructive Discharge

One older worker proved why you have to take complaints seriously. I’m Amy E. Feldman.

A sixty-one-year-old employee in Indiana was regularly harassed by his coworkers about his age, who daily called him names like “grandma” and “Walmart greeter,” which is outrageous to call a 61 year old that. The harassment included acts that interfered with his work like defacing his workstation with graffiti and gluing his tool cabinet shut. He complained many times, but the company never investigated and nothing changed. When a supervisor said—in front of others—that he had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, it was the last straw. 

He sued not just for discrimination, but for constructive discharge; a claim in which someone has to prove working conditions are so bad a reasonable person would be compelled to resign. The Appeals Court just ruled in his favor. It’s a lesson to companies that you have to take complaints seriously. And a reminder to everyone—treat your elders with respect, son. Someday the foot on that banana peel will be your own.

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