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Can I be fired or subject to discipline for "quiet quitting"?

Published February 6, 2023 by Employment and Commerce Law Group
Can I Be Disciplined or Fired for “Quiet Quitting?”

Recent polls suggest that up to 50 percent of the U.S. workforce is mentally withdrawing from work in a phenomenon dubbed “quiet quitting.” If you’re stepping back from your career because you’re feeling burnt out, underappreciated, or underpaid, you might be wondering whether quiet quitting could get you in disciplinary trouble or lead to termination.

What is Quiet Quitting?

Quiet quitting refers to an employee gradually disengaging from their job responsibilities without formally quitting or informing their employer of their intention to scale back. Due to the seismic shift in work culture that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a spike in employees only doing the work explicitly included in their job descriptions. 

There are various reasons for the uptick in quiet quitting. Many workers insist they are justified because of how the Internet allows employers to infringe upon their time away from the office. There are also more job opportunities and plenty of work-from-home jobs, which make it easier for workers to disengage and jump ship.

Can I Be Fired or Disciplined for Quiet Quitting in Tennessee?

An employer in Tennessee can fire an employee for quiet quitting at any time. Tennessee is an at-will employment state, meaning both employers and workers have the right to terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, with or without notice. The only exception applies to termination based on protected characteristics, such as race or gender, which is illegal in all circumstances. The at-will employment model also effectively gives employers broad disciplinary powers.

What is Quiet Firing?

Quiet firing occurs when an employer gradually reduces an employee’s responsibilities or access to work without formally dismissing them or informing them of the change. Quiet firing can manifest in numerous ways, such as giving out fewer assignments, limiting access to company resources, or even isolating an employee from colleagues. This type of behavior is detrimental to an employee’s career and is usually a form of constructive dismissal.

Do I Have a Wrongful Termination Case for Constructive Dismissal?

You might have grounds for a wrongful termination case for constructive dismissal after a quiet firing if:

  • Your employer demoted you or reduced your role, compensation, or responsibilities without any valid business reason.
  • Your employer made your work environment unbearable, perhaps through harassment, discrimination, or bullying.
  • Your employer significantly changed the terms or conditions of your employment, such as your salary, hours, or duties, without informing you.
  • Your employer failed to provide you with the tools, equipment, or resources you need to perform your job to the best of your ability.
  • Your employer isolated you from your colleagues, refused to assign you to any team or project, or prevented you from attending meetings or training.

Talk to the Employment and Commerce Law Group Today

The Tennessee employment attorneys at the Employment and Commerce Law Group represent clients in labor matters involving wrongful termination, wage-and-hour disputes, discrimination, harassment, unpaid overtime, and more. If you suspect your employer is mistreating you, call or contact our Tennessee employment attorneys today for a free case review. 

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