SW Legal studies in Business

Negative Work Evaluations Not Grounds for Constructive Discharge Claim Without More
Description Appeals court affirmed that a woman who quit, claiming constructive discharge, had no case against her employer. She failed to show that she suffered a direct job consequence as a result of having had an affair with an office manager. The fact that her work evaluations declined was not sufficiently oppressive to constitute constructive discharge.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Sexual Harassment; Retaliation; Constructive Discharge; Office Romance
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Houldsworth worked for the City of Temple Terrace, Florida from 1987 to 1996. During 1993 to 1994, she had an affair with a city manager who was her supervisor's manager. Her job evaluations began to fall after her affair ended. She complained to the human relations office that she believed the decline in her evaluations were because she had terminated her affair. The city manager learned that there had been an affair and told Houldsworth's former boyfriend to seek alternative employment. He soon left for another job. Houldsworth's evaluations continued to deteriorate and she quit after a year. She sued for constructive discharge. The trial court dismissed her suit; she appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Houldsworth was not able to show that the change in her work evaluations were due to her supervisor's concern about her affair with an office manager. That is an unsupported assertion. Hence, her lowered performance evaluations did not constitute sex discrimination. She received poor work evaluations before and after she complained to the human relations office about the matter. The receipt of work evaluations lower than ones received previously do not result in a work environment so negative that a reasonable person would feel compelled to resign, so there is no claim for constructive discharge.

Citation Pipkins v. City of Temple Terrace, 2001 WL 1149057 (11th Cir., 2001)

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