A federal appeals court has ruled in a Title VII race case arising out of Arkansas that reassigning an employee to a position that a reasonable employee would find “demeaning and intolerable” may be grounds for a claim for constructive discharge.
In Sanders v. Lee County School District No. 1, plaintiff claimed that because of her race she was reassigned by her employer School District from the job of “finance coordinator” to “food services assistant.” She asked the School District repeatedly to give her a job description for “food services assistant,” which would set forth her new duties, but this was never provided to her. She resigned and sued.
The Court stated that in a claim for constructive discharge, a plaintiff must demonstrate by an objective standard that the employer “deliberately created intolerable working conditions with the intention of forcing her to quit,” and that simply offering the employee a different job is not necessarily a good defense. In this case, the Court held that plaintiff had shown enough that a “reasonable jury” could find that her particular reassignment was a demotion in title and responsibilities.
Employers be advised: It doesn’t take too much for an employee to claim a constructive discharge.