“Can ‘involuntary resignation’ be used in an ‘at will’ state (for a bully boss)?”

Question: Can involuntary resignation be used in the state of New York even though we are an “employment at will” state?

My boss is bullying me and isolating me. He also has not spoken to me for six weeks. He is going around me to my subordinates, and having them do my normal tasks.

My physician has been involved, and has diagnosed my problem as anxiety and depression due to harassment and hostility at my work environment.

Thank you in advance.

Binghamton, New York

Answer: Lisa, your question is welcome, as it permits me to allay concerns many people seem to have about two of my favorite subjects: “involuntary resignation” and “at will” employment.   

1. “At will” employment is near-universal, with few, if any, exceptions anywhere, worldwide. It is so common that I receive questions that seem to indicate to me that people think their state is unusual in being an “at will” employment state. Rather, the truth is that “at will” employment is near universal, worldwide, with few exceptions and  limitations. All “at will” means is that either employer or employee can say “Good-bye” at any time. It says nothing about “why” they can do that, “how” they can do that, “where” they can do that, or anything else.

In many ways, “at will” employment is a kind of “freedom,” in that you can leave a bully boss any time you wish, and as soon as you can, which is to my mind a great thing. Seen this way, “at will” employment is a “gift” to employees in your situation.

If you are Suffering from a Bully Boss, we offer Model ANONYMOUS BULLY BOSS COMPLAINT to Your Employer, for your adaptation. Shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.” To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered to your printer in minutes.

2. “Involuntary Resignation” is a concept I have developed and promoted to permit (a) an exit from a bad working relation (b) without loss of rights, claims, or interests. So far as I know, I invented the term “involuntary resignation” as a means for my clients to get away from a bad work situation – one like yours that is debilitating – yet at the same time not giving up any rights, interests or claims, which is often the case with the usual resignation, which people – often mistakenly – presume is “voluntary.”

I think I came up with the idea in an attempt to make sure that one of my clients “resigned” her job, but still had a fine legal basis to collect unemployment benefits. That’s because most states’ Labor Departments have seen the dilemma of people who quit their jobs for “understandable” reasons, such as (i) unsafe working conditions, (ii) justifiable fear of assault or rape, or (iii) demand they engage in illegal behavior, and in these circumstances have awarded unemployment benefits.  

“Involuntary Resignation” is a great, useful and helpful concept that can be used anywhere, by anyone, at any time.   

3. There is no reason – whatsoever – that “involuntary resignation” should not be used in an at-will employment relation; in fact, it is designed to be used in that context. Perhaps the best working relation in which to use “Involuntary Resignation” is the at-will employment relation.

The opposite of an “at will” employment relation is a “Committed” or “Contracted” employment relation in which both employer and employee are “firmly tied” to one another for a specified period of time, such as two years.

Imagine how bad it would be to be required to work for a Bully Boss, or to have to work in an unsafe environment, or to be pressured to violate the law by a boss, for at least another year, with no way out. In contrast, appreciate how good it is to (a) have a way out of such a predicament, (b) without losing your right to unemployment benefits, accrued vacation, this year’s 401k contribution, and other legal claims and interests. That’s how good and useful a concept “involuntary resignation” is.

4. A “Bully Boss” situation like yours is the most appropriate place to use “Involuntary Resignation.” Your “Bully Boss” predicament is a perfect situation in which to use “involuntary resignation.” You are (a) getting away from an intolerable situation, (b) doing the best anyone can to avoid losing out on benefits, interests and payments that might be lost for “voluntary resignation,” and (c) perhaps most significantly, you are reporting the Bully Boss for what he is.

To STAND UP FOR YOURSELF, we offer Model COMPLAINT OF BULLY BOSS TO CEO AND HR, you can adapt and use. Shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.” To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered to your printer in minutes.

5. Recall the wise words of folk singer Joan Baez: “Action is the antidote to Despair.” I truly believe that “Involuntary Resignation – Standing Up, Not Giving Up, to an Intolerable Situation at Work,” –can help alleviate the debilitating effects of powerlessness while under attack: anxiety and depression. I am even confident your physician would agree. It’s a matter of getting away from the evil without hurting yourself. I think your  Bully Boss may very well want you to resign – but he is not expecting you to do it in a way that is with courage and conviction. And, by involuntarily resigning, you may just help out others who would otherwise be his victims in the future.

As you probably know, we offer a Model Involuntary Resignation Letter on the Model Letters section of our blogsite, that you can adapt to use for your own letter. To obtain a copy, simply [click here]. 

For great info and insight, consider viewing our 12-minute Sklover-On-Demand Video entitled “Involuntary Resignation – Standing Up, Not Giving Up, to an Intolerable Situation at Work.” To do so, just [click here].

Lisa, I truly hope this is helpful to you in this difficult situation you face. Thank you for writing in, and we would very much love to hear of your success as you move forward.

Best, Best, Best,
Al Sklover

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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