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Talk to a lawyer before you quit


Many people believe that quitting their jobs voluntarily is better than being fired, but that’s not how it works in the law.

If you are experiencing harassment and/or discrimination, it is possible you could lose your legal claim if you quit. It is much more difficult to bring a lawsuit if you quit your job.

Having said that, if you are in physical danger, quit, call 911, do whatever you have to do to be safe. No one has the right to touch you without your permission.

If you are not in physical danger, talk with a lawyer before you quit.

The Moral of Natalia and Jayna – Talk With An Attorney Early

I’m going to tell you two stories, both of which are a combination real stories I hear all the time, and the names are different to protect attorney-client privilege and their identities. If this sounds like your story, just know that I have heard dozens of stories just like this.

Natalia Quit Before She Talked To An Attorney

Natalia, for example, hated the toxic environment she worked in, and she talked about it all the time. She tried to bring in trainings for her gossiping co-workers, and she complained to HR about how people would leave dirty dishes in the kitchen.

The real reason she hated her job, which she never talked about, was that last year, she was travelling with her boss for work. They were out drinking with colleagues, and when they went back to the hotel, he started texting her. He made inappropriate comments that she found very threatening. Pretty soon, he was outside her hotel door knocking. She did not answer.

They never spoke of this incident again, but every time Natalia saw him, she started to panic. She had been afraid he would be able to break into her door or that he would retaliate against her now for having rebuffed him. She wanted to move on, but she couldn’t stop thinking about how afraid she had been that night - and how frightened she was every time he criticized her work or looked at her a certain way.

Natalia quit, and then she called me. She wanted to sue her employer for that experience. She was convinced that her employer had to know her boss was sexist.

Unfortunately, Natalia would have had to prove that the harassment happened, that her employer knew or should have known about the harassment, that her employer failed to promptly and effectively respond, AND then that her employer constructively discharged her by forcing her out of the job. That was almost impossible to do in her case because she quit before talking to a lawyer, even though she had the text messages and what she experienced was really, really wrong.

Jayna Talked to an Attorney Before She Quit.

Now, consider Jayna. Jayna had almost the exact same experience. She was travelling with an older male boss, and in the elevator on the way to their rooms, he grabbed her and tried to kiss her. He apologized later, but Jayna was extremely shaken. She tried to justify it, thinking maybe he had misunderstood her signals. But, then, one time, he told her that if she ever mentioned it to anyone, he would not be able to continue to support her research. After that, she thought he must have been planning the whole thing.

Jayna had worked hard for her career (as had Natalia, for that matter), and she was not willing to let someone’s threats hold her back. She knew it was worth it, to protect her career, to get advice about what she could do. So, she reached out.

Jayna was afraid that if she followed through with reporting her boss, he would follow through with destroying her research and she would lose her career. But, since she was thinking about quitting and abandoning her career anyway, she thought, what did she have to lose? Also, she wanted to do what she could to protect other women.

Jayna was shocked when she was both able to hold her boss accountable and create a safer work environment, all without losing her job. She was able to decide whether to leave when it was the best financial and career-focused decision for her, not because she was forced out.

Around half of women experience sexual harassment at work. Around half of those women leave their careers because of it. Do you value your career, your future, and other women’s safety enough to do something about harassment at your work? Talk with an attorney before you leave. Your career is worth it.


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