Is quiet firing illegal?

You’ve probably heard of “quiet quitting,” which is used to describe situations when employees start putting only the minimal effort necessary into their job to remain employed, but have you heard of “quiet firing?”

Quiet firing is the new phrase to describe an age-old problem. It refers to situations where bosses and managers purposefully ignore or mistreat certain employees to try to push them out of their jobs without formally terminating them.

Why wouldn’t an employer just fire an unwanted employee?

Straightforward termination, especially if it is due to discrimination, can expose employers to legal liabilities and wrongful termination lawsuits. Plus, firing an employee may cost the company severance pay and unemployment benefits. If an employee quits, the company has fewer legal concerns and expenses.

How do you know if you’re the victim of quiet firing? It may look a little different in every situation:

  • You may find yourself with fewer responsibilities and struggling to fill your hours, while prime assignments go to others. 
  • You may suddenly find yourself cut out of staff meetings and purposefully excluded from group chats or important emails. 
  • You could also be suddenly overloaded with work – and every task micromanaged from above, with your performance suddenly found lacking.

Whatever the mechanisms your employer uses, quiet firing may be a form of constructive discharge. A constructive discharge is a situation where an employee feels that they really have no choice but to quit because of how they are being treated. 

Quiet firing may also be a form of discrimination if your employer’s actions are motivated by your inclusion in a protected class, such as your age, race, religion, gender or national origin.  

If you believe that your employer is subtly or not-so-subtly trying to force you to quit, it may be time to seek legal guidance that’s tailored to the specifics of your situation.

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