When my employee walked out of the office , did he quit?

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Latest post 04-13-2009 9:35 AM by Beth3. 7 replies.
  • 04-08-2009 8:58 PM

    • Dunstable
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 04-08-2009
    • TX
    • Posts 5

    When my employee walked out of the office , did he quit?

    I was a one-man company till I hired an employee (an engineer on $90k/yr). His work was fine for about a month and then his output and the quality of his work went down. He admitted to a long history of depression, feelings of inadequacy, and suicidal tendencies. He admitted that recently his mind could not focus on his work for days on end. Two weeks before a major deadline, he failed to show for work and it transpired he had been admitted to hospital for depression and threats of suicide. When he returned to work, I kept him off difficult work for a few weeks. When he seemed OK, I resumed my normal expectations. About a week later and two days before our next major deadline was due, I criticized his work and he walked out of the office without saying a word and hasn't come back since (nearly 2 weeks later).

    I presumed he had quit but he is now emailing me, complaining about me berating him and scoffing at his work. He also says that he consulted a doctor (9 days after walking out of the office) and that he is required to attend a hospital each day as an out-patient.

    It seems to me he is trying to establish either (A) that he is on sick leave or (B) that I constructively dismissed him by making remarks about his work that he found insulting. From my point of view, I think he quit his job when he walked out. What isthe legal position?

    We are an in Texas and it is an at-will job.

     

  • 04-08-2009 10:02 PM In reply to

    Re: When my employee walked out of the office , did he quit?

    Frankly, I don't think you have much choice but to consider it a quit and acknowledge it in writing. Just make sure you get your attorney to create the letter so it doesn't get you in hot water.

     

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  • 04-08-2009 11:29 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,585

    Re: When my employee walked out of the office , did he quit?

    Laymans take--and from a tour of duty in HR as well---

     

    I agree--better to use counsel to draft the note--you are likely  to write wrong things. Either you want a quit to stick or a termination for cause to stick

     

    And stop taking to the guy!

     

    I'd focus note on facts that he left work w/o permission on day XXX , was a no show  on YYY and left work for 9+ days CCC--BBB , and that your required times at work are 8:30 to 5pm and as may be directed. But leave words to your counsel.  You don't want some pro worker UC issue as to his medical needs blah blah.

     

    Hey if his workr was not up to par you have sound business reasons to be critical

     

     



  • 04-08-2009 11:43 PM In reply to

    • Cica
      Consumer
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 09-23-2003
    • Posts 6,520

    Re: When my employee walked out of the office , did he quit?

    It could possibly be viewed to your advantage as job abandonment with an effort by him to "correct" his error after the fact. Contact an employment law attorney for suggestion.

  • 04-09-2009 12:01 AM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,585

    Re: When my employee walked out of the office , did he quit?

    PS Do NOT let him come back--even for 5 minutes--invent excuses, call counsel if he trys that game.



  • 04-09-2009 9:47 AM In reply to

    Re: When my employee walked out of the office , did he quit?

    What isthe legal position?  He quit.  He walked off the job without a word and never called or returned.  Send a very short letter stating that you accepted his resignation when he walked off the job on [date] and say nothing more in the letter.

    P.S.  Criticizing his work does not make his walking off the job a constructive discharge.  Not even close.   

  • 04-11-2009 2:58 PM In reply to

    • Dunstable
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 04-08-2009
    • TX
    • Posts 5

    Re: When my employee walked out of the office , did he quit?

    Thanks, everyone, for the very useful responses. I wrote to my employee telling him I accepted his resignation that he effectively gave when he walked off the job out of dissatisfaction with the way I criticized his work without giving me an opportunity to address his complaint.

    He has responded by saying he thinks he was fired for going on sick leave and that his illness was caused by what I said to him, but I don't think any of that is credible because he had mental health issues before I hired him, also his first email about a week after he walked out made it clear he was dissatisfied with the way I spoke to him and didn't mention sickness, also he didn't see a doctor till over a week after he walked out, and at no time did he call in to say he was sick. He didn't claim illness as a reason for leaving till about 10 days after walking out, contradicting his first email that gave dissatisfaction as the reason for leaving. It seems he is trying to reinvent the facts.

  • 04-13-2009 9:35 AM In reply to

    Re: When my employee walked out of the office , did he quit?

     It seems he is trying to reinvent the facts.   Yup.  He didn't go on sick leave - he walked off the job.  If you should ever have an employee walk off the job again, don't wait so long to take action. 

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