Constructive Dismissal

Posted on May 20, 2010 by


Barney always smelled bad, nobody could read his writing, and his team members found it creepy how he stared at their cell phones. Peter is the project manager whose team includes Barney and ten other people. Peter wants to get rid of Barney, but doesn’t want to fire him. Instead, Peter decides to enlist the help of the rest of his team to make Barney’s life so horrible that he just quits on his own accord. One team member pops the letter keys out of Barney’s computer keyboard and re-arranges them. This has the effect of making Barney quite unproductive, for which Peter takes the opportunity to tell him that he is about as good as a hibernating bear. A young woman on the team walks by Barney’s desk every day waving her cell phone in his face, saying “you’ll never have a cool phone like mine!” Peter then informs Barney that his work hours are changing to 1:00am to 6:00am, seven days a week. Also, everyone on the team gets a raise except for Barney, who gets a severe pay cut. Barney is miserable. Barney quits.

Barney sues the company. He claims this case of Constructive Dismissal, and due to being treated unfairly, Barney is decides to take legal action.  Depending on the State of incorporation, success of such legal action is very unlikely.  The moral of the story is while it appears to be a open and shut case for Barney – he should have engaged the team to learn what he could do differently.  It will involve time to fight the frivolous lawsuit and that is the lesson for Peter.