Is Your Boss Guilty Of ‘Quiet Firing’?

Quiet Firing is the new trend that has gotten everyone’s attention since a viral video on TikTok in which the term “quiet quitting” was used. This is a term coined by employees to loosely define performing only one’s minimum job requirements within designated working hours. In contrast to quiet quitting, “quiet firing” involves employers doing the bare minimum to support their staff. This is often done in an effort to compel certain employees to quit.  Quiet firing has been linked to some passive-aggressive techniques that employers may use when trying to make employees quit. This article explains how this new trend is related to constructive dismissal and how can an employment lawyer help.

Here are some signs which indicate your employer might be “quiet firing” you:

  1. Your normal duties are being reassigned to others: this could be a sign you are being “pushed out” of your job as your employer or manager delegates your usual tasks to other colleagues.
  2. Your hours are reduced: you notice your work hours have been significantly reduced without any explanation at all from any supervisor or your direct boss.
  3. Your workload reaches an unmanageable level: your manager or direct boss may start giving you projects one after another with unreasonable deadlines. This may be a way of them trying to overwhelm you to the point of you resigning.
  4. You are receiving poor reviews, no positive feedback, nor a plan to assist you with improving your work: if you notice that you are consistently receiving bad reviews and at no point is your supervisor trying to give you advice or tips on how to improve, this might also be a sign of being “quietly fired”.

Employers should be very careful with this behaviour as it is confusing to the employee and may be considered constructive dismissal.

 

Is quiet firing similar to constructive dismissal?

Constructive dismissal is when an employer unilaterally makes modifications that significantly modify an employee’s contract without formally terminating the employee. This can involve acting in a way that makes working there unbearable for the employee. Employers may employ constructive dismissal methods as an effort to avoid the financial liabilities linked to dismissals without cause.

The terms and conditions of employment, the employer’s actions, and the employee’s reaction are taken into consideration when determining what constitutes constructive dismissal. Although each case should be examined considering its unique circumstances, courts have viewed significant unilateral changes in an employee’s responsibilities, wages, hours, location, and/or position as fundamental changes in employment conditions which could result in finding the employee being constructively dismissed.

Based on the above, we can say that quit firing could have some similarity to constructive dismissal, depending on what actions the employer has taken. It is recommend to contact an employment lawyer so they can analyze the specifics of your case to determine if in fact you have been constructively dismissed.

Employers should always keep in mind that quiet firing may create a poisoned environment which is a form of discrimination that could potentially lead an employee to file a Human Rights application.

 

If an employee is not performing to the standards of your business, here are some tips for things you could do:

  1. Talk to your employee: as always, communication is key in an employment relationship. Sometimes employees may be going through difficult times in their personal lives. Before deciding to shut off your employee, try asking them what you could do to help them improve. Many times, a conversation goes a long way.
  2. Put the employee in a performance improvement plan: this tool will allow you to provide your employee with a set plan on how to succeed within the company.
  3. Do not unilaterally change the employee’s duties: Employers should not unilaterally change the employee’s duties or any other aspects of the employment agreement without first consulting with the employee.

 

What should an employee do if they believe their boss is “quiet[ly] firing” them?

Employees must always remember that bullying and harassment in the workplace are unacceptable. If you believe your manager is trying to make you quit, avoid jumping to conclusions and speak directly with them. Let your employer or manager know how you feel about the changes you have noticed.

If your employer doesn’t take any action and you feel they’re acting maliciously, you should speak with an employment lawyer. It is recommended you do this prior to quitting your job.

It is always important to document all communications between you and any manager or supervisor. When speaking with a manager, a follow-up email detailing what was said and when it was said is recommended. The reason for this is employers may refute the employee’s allegations if legal action is taken down the line. Having documented evidence is key as this will support an employee’s claim.

 

Conclusion

Over the last couple of months, we have seen new trends get worldwide attention. Employees and employers are learning to balance their work life and their personal lives. Employers must not under any circumstance create a toxic work environment for any of their employees. This is unacceptable and could result in a financial loss for employers if an employee pursues legal action.

If employers feel their employees are not performing to their standards, they should address this directly with the employee and try to find a solution together. Employees should not allow any bullying or harassment from anyone in the workplace. If your employer is trying to push you out of your job, you must document all the communications and speak with an employment lawyer.

Employers and employees should have open and clear communication as to what their expectations, duties and responsibilities are. A healthy workplace is not only beneficial to an employee but also for employers.

 

Contact us

If you are an employer looking to terminate an employee or an employee who believes they have been constructively dismissed. Our team of experienced employment lawyers can help. Contact us at 1-800-771-7882 or email us at [email protected]. We will be happy to assist.

If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support, check out our Chief Legal Officer (CLO) program page for our strategic solutions.

 

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