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Can quiet quitting lead to legal problems for employers?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2023 | Employment Law

“Quiet quitting” typically refers to a situation in which an employee consciously disengages from their job or responsibilities without formally resigning. This can involve reducing effort, productivity or commitment to the job without openly expressing dissatisfaction (or the intent to go elsewhere).

Sometimes quiet quitting is an employee’s response to what they consider unfair, hostile or unbearable working conditions. If an employee believes that they are being subjected to a hostile work environment or being discriminated against, they may engage in quiet quitting when they don’t have an immediate alternative job available.

They may feel that their employer is trying to get them to quit. However, they don’t want to formally resign because they don’t want to lose valuable benefits, including unemployment.

Employment discrimination and retaliation claims

While quiet quitting is not a recognized legal term, it can cause potential legal and workplace issues. Employers and managers need to be sensitive to this fact — especially if the employee in question has recently complained about discrimination, safety concerns or sexual harassment.

Employers who fail to address these issues could be opening themselves up to legal claims, especially if the employee is eventually disciplined for a lack of productivity or fired. The lack of effective complaint procedures (or the lack of an effective response) can prompt an employee to essentially “give up,” and resort to minimal effort while they search elsewhere for a new position.

Employers and employees should each carefully consider their legal rights and obligations in any situation where job dissatisfaction could lead to bigger issues and seek legal guidance when necessary.

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