An employee who claimed her supervisor “dressed [her] down” for 45 minutes, telling her during the tirade that she was unqualified for her job “because bipolar people are deficient, flighty, dishonest and untrustworthy,” cannot establish her constructive discharge claim, according to the Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Menzie v. Ann Taylor Retail Inc. (11th Cir. December 11, 2013).
During the exchange, the supervisor told plaintiff she could either accept a demotion or remain in her position, where she would very likely not succeed. Two days later, the plaintiff resigned.
For a constructive discharge claim, a plaintiff must establish that working conditions were so intolerable that a reasonable person in her position would have been compelled to resign. The plaintiff pointed to the 45 minute tirade to support her constructive discharge claim. The court rejected her claim and affirmed summary judgment for the employer, noting that a single isolated instance of employment discrimination is generally insufficient to support such a claim. The court cited another court’s observation that “an employee is not guaranteed a working environment free of stress.”
For procedural reasons, the court rejected the plaintiff’s claim that she was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her disability. In doing so, the court posited that such a claim does not exist under the ADA, stating: “[W]e have never held in a published opinion that a hostile work environment claim is available under the ADA. We do not decide that issue today because [the plaintiff] never asserted such a claim.” Since other courts have recognized such a claim, employers must check whether such a claim exists where the case is pending.