Your Mom probably told you: “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” In the workplace, this is sometimes great advice. Rather than unleashing your true feelings on a co-worker, you can elect to ignore him. Nevertheless, you can’t make everybody happy. So, one employee who received the “silent treatment” from co-workers attempted to claim that she was being discriminated against. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently rejected that claim in Jones v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 16-15628, 2017 WL 3887790 (11th Cir. Sep. 6, 2017).
Jamilia Jones’s employment with Allstate Insurance Company was complicated. She complained that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor, and, after an investigation, Allstate fired that supervisor on May 8, 2012. She then took disability leave in June and July 2012. Ms. Jones testified that, upon her return to work, co-workers would not talk to her for fear of losing their jobs. Those who would talk with her would only do so with a witness present. She resigned her employment on September 10, 2012, and later claimed that she was forced to resign because she was treated so poorly at work. In other words, she claimed that she was “constructively discharged.”
To succeed on a claim of constructive discharge, an employee must show that her working conditions were so intolerable that a reasonable person in her position would be compelled to resign. But, the Eleventh Circuit found that the “silent treatment” simply did not amount to intolerable working conditions. As a result, the Court affirmed dismissal of Ms. Jones’s claim for constructive discharge — once again proving that Mom is always right.