TO: John White, CEO
FROM: Jill, Elementary Division Manager
December 6, 2012
Dear Mr. White,
In reference to the recent Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 claim filed by Jane Smith. I have been asked, by the company attorney to research the alleged constructive discharge claim based off a work schedule policy change the company has recently implemented due to company growth. I am writing this memo to summarize my findings, discuss how constructive discharge as a legal concept is relevant within this claim, how the allegations are addressed within the guidelines of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and recommend how the company should respond to the employees charge of constructive discharge including three legal references that support my recommendations.
First, I will discuss how the constructive discharge as a legal concept is relevant to this allegation. “A constructive discharge occurs when an employee is legally justified in claiming that he or she was compelled to resign because the employer has made working conditions intolerable.” (Dempsey, 2012) Ms. Smith is a member of a religious organization that worships on a religious holy day. When the company changed its policy to require employees to work 12-hour shifts, four days a week, she was required to work on some of these religious holidays. Ms. Smith alleges this is discrimination because she was not allowed to worship therefore she was forced to quit in order to practice her religious beliefs within the guidelines of the religious practices of her organization. With this information, the claim Ms. Smith has brought against the company is considered a constructive discharge.
Within the guidelines of the Title VII, the Act “prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing, and other terms and conditions of employment.” (Findlaw, 2010) The law also requires the employer to allow the employee to practice their religious beliefs, as the beliefs require, and the company must create reasonable accommodations. These accommodations can include such actions as an adjustment to the work environment, flexible work scheduling, job reassignments, or voluntary substitutions. The Act further rules companies should not inquire about employees future work availability, or refuse to allow employees to observe a Sabbath or religious holiday, unless the accommodations create an undue hardship for the company. These hardships can include an increase in ordinary administrative costs, infringement on other employees job benefits or rights, diminishes efficiency within other areas, causes other workers to take on the protected employees workload, infringes on or conflicts with other laws and regulations, or impairs workplace safety.
When looking at the claim, the company will need to determine whether Ms. Smith claim falls under the majority test which follows the rule that a person was forced to quit because the company had made conditions within the workplace so intolerable, and the minority rule in which she must show not only that conditions were intolerable within the workplace, but that the company had forced her to resign by creating the conditions with the intent of forcing her to quit. There are two separate tests that will give the company guidance as to how to respond to this claim. The Reasonable person test, which focused on the employer’s action of the employee and whether the working conditions were so bad that the conditions would force a reasonable person to quit, and the Specific intent test which focuses on the employer and asks whether the employer intentionally created an intolerable working condition with the intent to force an employee to quit. It also needs to be determine, whether Ms. Smith informed the company of the situation so that the company would be allowed to accommodate her religious practices within the new work schedule