Is it legal to ask an employee to resign?

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Is it legal to ask an employee to resign?

I ‘m currently working for a big company as a seasonal employee and I signed an at-will contract for 120 days of employment. After 1 month working for this position I was asked to resign because my manager thinks I’m not a good fit and I’m not meeting his expectations. This is a field position and my manager also says I’m better fit for an office job. I have been performing the job to the best of my abilities, arriving on time and trying hard to meet the job’s requirements. I’m the only woman for this position and at this location. Should I just leave the job?

Asked on August 12, 2011 California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is legal to ask someone to do anything not itself illegal--so, for example, it's legal to ask an employee to resign. However, you can't be forced to resign, though you could be fired if you don't have an employment contract protecting your employment--which you wouldn't, as an at-will employee. Why would you resign rather than make them fire you: if you're fired, you can get unemployment (if you otherwise qualify), and if the manager is unwilling to actually fire you for some reason (see below), if you leave the ball in his court, you may end up never being fired.

As to the issue of your sex/gender: if you feel you are being singled out for discriminatory treatment because you're  a woman (and maybe that's why the manager isn't simply firing you--either he has nothing to justify it to his higher-ups, or he's worried it will look sexist), you may be the victim of illegal employment discrimination. If that's the case, you may wish to consult with an employment attorney to discuss the situation in detail. Good luck.


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