Employment Law Attorneys Best Answers: Does my resignation have to be in writing? What is the best way to quit my job? Can the company that I work for do anything to me if I quit without giving notice?
Employees are not required by law to give two weeks’ notice. Our employment lawyers recently discussed that at-will employment means that either party can terminate the employment relationship for any reason, no reason or even a bad reason unless that reason is contrary to law. (See What Does Employment At-Will Mean?). The massively overwhelming amount of times that employment-at-will is discussed, employment law lawyers are doing so in the context of employers being able to fire employees whenever they want. Today, I’m going to focus on how employment at-will benefits employees. It really is simply this: employees have the right to quit and walk out the door whenever they want. Workers can give as much or as little notice as they want. The resignation can be in writing, by text message, email, verbally or posted on a door.
My mother-in-law has frequently told the story of when her father, a tailor, quit after being upset by the owner’s conduct. The owner asked, “Harry, when are you leaving?” to which he responded, “Right now” and walked out the door. And that, my friends, is employment at will from the employee’s perspective.
Moreover, if an employee is in an unlawful discriminatory and hostile work environment, and particularly if the employee intends to assert a claim for constructive discharge, the employee should absolutely not give two weeks’ notice. (What Is A Hostile Work Environment?; Employment Law: What Does “Constructive Discharge” Mean?). Why should an employee continue to be voluntarily subjected to employment discrimination or sexual harassment when the employee is free to walk out the door?
What can the employer do about you not giving two weeks’ notice? Retaliation? Our employment attorneys just blogged about the fact that your job cannot withhold your last paycheck as punishment. (See Can My Job Withhold My Last Paycheck?). Your job could put you on a no-rehire list or have policies that would result in you forfeiting any remaining PTO (except in California). Maybe you won’t get a glowing reference or invited to play with the company softball team. But, yawn, not much.
I mean, we all have heard of wrongful termination, but have you ever heard an employer assert a claim for wrongful quitting? Seriously, what employer would be stupid enough to try and force disgruntled employees to keep working? Ladies and gentlemen, I present you ThedaCare.
ThedaCare is a major regional hospital system in Wisconsin. Seven employees of ThedaCare’s interventional radiology and cardiovascular team were unhappy with the work environment. These employees were at-will employees and not contractually obligated to a specific term or to provide any specific notice. One employee found what he considered a much better job at Ascension, which is part of one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the United States. He told the other six about the better pay, benefits, and work-life balance. They applied and all got offers. They could have just quit and not come back the next day, but they gave ThedaCare a chance to match or otherwise convince them not to leave.
According to a statement, ThedaCare “had an opportunity but declined to make competitive counter offers to retain its former employees.” According to one of the seven employees, the response was that “by matching the offers, the long-term expense to ThedaCare was not worth the short-term cost and that no counteroffer would be made.”
End of story, right? Nope.
ThedaCare filed a lawsuit against these employees and their new employer seeking an injunction to prevent the employees from leaving and starting a new job until it could find new employees to replace them. ThedaCare argued that letting these employees leave would prevent the hospital from providing care to critically ill trauma and stroke patients and likely cause the loss of its Level II trauma center status. ThedaCare further argued that these employees quit knowing that it would harm its ability to conduct its operations.
But, Apparently, ThedaCare wanted to the Court to force them to keep working at the same rate of pay and benefits as some kind of endured servants until it was in their best interests to let them go. And as for patient that need care, Ascension’s patients also needed care, which is why it placed a premium on making sure it could hire and staff its facilities. Nonetheless, ThedaCare told the Court that because of these employees quitting patients may die. Wow, um… they did give ThedaCare a chance to pay them more in order to keep them. So, ThedaCare thought that giving raises to market value were not worth these patients lives. That will be a nice soundbite in the forthcoming medical malpractice lawsuits.
As you can expect, the Judge sided with the employees. At-will employment goes both ways.
If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have been wrongfully fired or terminated;” or “I have been discriminated against or harassed based on my …” race, national origin, gender, age, religion or disability; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our lawyers in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Detroit, and Cincinnati to get help now. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its lawyers are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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