Help! I put in two weeks’ notice, but I don’t think I can last that long in this job

Question:

After working 18 months for an abusive supervisor, I’m giving my notice tomorrow. The last straw was yesterday, when he confronted me by grabbing my arm and shouting at me in the hallway over a project he said I hadn’t completed.

I don’t know how I’ll be able to work through the two weeks’ notice I’m required to give. Don’t tell me to go to human resources or any senior manager for help. I’ve sought help from both and never received any. I also know they’ll consider me a traitor if I don’t work out my final two weeks, but they won’t help me deal with him if he comes into my office, like he has several times, and leaned over my desk shouting at me. I also don’t have a job lined up. What do I do if I get a horrible reference from this man?

Answer:

If your supervisor physically grabbed you, he may have violated your organization’s code of conduct, policy against harassment, and/or policy against workplace violence. In many organizations, that’s a terminable offense.

“Your supervisor’s conduct and the failure by the company’s HR department or senior management to do anything to stop his behavior may also serve as a basis to waive any two weeks’ notice requirement,” says Renea Saade, a partner within the labor and employment group of Stoel Rives LLP. “Alaska law doesn’t require employees to provide their employers with two weeks’ notice of resignation. This notice is only required if an employment contract or company policy requires it and even then the notice requirement can sometimes be excused.”

Saade gives as examples situations in which the workplace environment is hostile to the level that no reasonable person could be expected to continue working there or when the work environment unreasonably interferes with an employee’s ability to perform their duties. In these cases, the situation can excuse an employee’s obligation to provide notice.

“In some instances, an employee facing such circumstances can take the position that he or she was ‘constructively discharged’ before the resignation took effect,” Saade says.

Saade suggests you visit HR again, explain to them that you wish to resign and see if you can negotiate a mutually acceptable last day of work that doesn’t forfeit any rights that you may otherwise be entitled to if you gave the full two weeks’ notice, so that you can leave on terms you can live with. Saade adds that you can confirm with your HR officer the company’s policy regarding references.

A supervisor’s reference can pose a problem; however, you have several options. If you have positive references from prior supervisors or other senior managers from your current organization, a prospective employer may not even call your most recent supervisor. Alternatively, if you have performance reviews documenting your positive performance, these carry more weight than a letter of reference.

©Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at http://www.bullywhisperer.com.

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