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That's It--I Quit!

It may sound like nonsense, but former employees can sue you for unlawful termination even if you didn't fire them.

This story appears in the November 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Life was looking good for a Pittsburgh waitress when she was promoted to maitre d' and pastry chef at the restaurant where she worked, an uncharacteristic move from ownership that made her the only woman in a management position there. But within a few months, it seemed that the promotion must have been a mistake.

She found she was excluded from management meetings and had difficulty ordering supplies. Later, she discovered the owner and the general manager had decided they didn't want a woman as maitre d' because she didn't "fit the mold." She learned the general manager had boasted she wouldn't be there long and asked the chef to find a man to replace her. Then the chef accused her of stealing and drinking on the job--charges, she later alleged, suggested by the owner of the business. She even found wine bottles wrapped in an apron, hidden in her locker as if she'd stolen them. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to discuss all this with the owner, she finally resigned--then sued over sex discrimination, claiming that, in effect, she'd been illegally terminated.

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