- An HR director spent five days at a company before quitting and suing for discrimination, but she failed to state a claim in her complaint, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (Boddie v. Cardone Industries Inc., No. 20-3058 (3rd. Cir., Oct. 15, 2021)).
- Upon arriving at her new job as director of human resources, the plaintiff questioned the demographic makeup of the company's upper management. She learned the next day that her office was at a satellite facility, rather than the headquarters, and that most of the company's minority employees worked there. She soon discovered that the company was embroiled in business issues, making her new gig less opportune.
- She quit halfway through her fifth day and filed a lawsuit in which she charged her former employer with discrimination and infliction of emotional distress. A district court dismissed her complaint, and the 3rd Circuit agreed.
The HR director alleged her employer took an adverse employment action against her by way of constructive discharge. The district court and appellate court found that the details she alleged did not support her claim.
"Constructive discharge occurs when an employer knowingly permit[s] conditions ... so intolerable that a reasonable person subject to them would resign," the court said, quoting a 2006 opinion stemming from a lawsuit involving Walmart.
The conditions the HR director found fell short of the threshold set by the courts. The court recognized the state of her workspace was unwelcome: the director said her office was home to a giant cockroach and foul smells.
But the employer responded to the director's concerns. "Her supervisor advised that a cleaning crew would arrive later that day and permitted [the worker] to leave early," the court said. "Rather than giving [her employer] a chance to fix the problems, [she] resigned."
This element is key to the complaint's dismissal. Courts generally hold that reasonable employees look into "alternative avenues" before resigning over working conditions, the 3rd Circuit said. But the director refused to wait even a few hours to see if a cleaning crew could rid her office of odor and vermin.