Your Employer is Trying to Make You Quit. Now What?
Good employers make responsible decisions when it comes to letting employees go. They sit down with the employee, explain the reasons, and understand that - as a consequence of their decision - they will be required to pay increased unemployment taxes. Unfortunately, some workers don't have the luxury of being treated with this kind-of dignity when their employer wants them to leave. Instead, they find themselves in a situation where their employer is becoming increasingly hostile toward them, hoping that they will eventually quit. These types of employers hope that, if the employee leaves "voluntarily," it will be much more difficult for the employee to collect unemployment benefits.
A situation where an employee is being treated in a way that is designed to force them into quitting their work is often referred to as a "hostile workplace." Being subjected to a hostile work enviornment does not automatically provide any legal rights to an employee. However, it can often end up being a critical factor in related disuptes, such as discrimination lawsuits or, as I mentioned above, unemployment claims.
When facing this situation, it is important for the worker to maintain good records and to document the problems that he or she is facing as much as possible. For example, if someone in the workplace makes a statement or takes an action that the employee believes is intended to make them leave, they should make a complaint, in writing, to their boss, supervisor or human relations director. It is critical that your side of the story get told in as much documentation - text messages, emails, memos, etc. - as possible.
I have always been a big proponent of "writing up" the employer. That is, just as the employer tries to document your file with evidence of your supposed bad conduct (which is often exaggerated, if not outright fabricated, in hostile workplace cases), it is important for the worker to be attempting to document their file with their own description of the events in question. At a later point, if a legal dispute exists, the documents will "tell the story," especially in situations where you and your employer are giving differing accounts of what happened before you left your job. As such, the more documentation that is available to you, the stronger your case will be in the long run.
If you are dealing with, or have lost your job as a result of a hostile work environment, you may need help. Reach out to an attorney in your area who practices employment law, and ask them if they can help with your situation. Often, lawyers who practice in this area do not charge for an initial consultation.