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|No intolerable working
No constructive discharge.
Stansbury v. Sioux City Community Sch Dist (Iowa Ct App
Custom Alerts™ subscribers on 07/24/2022
Stansbury was an elementary school principal who resigned after
she was demoted to assistant principal. Stansbury then sued the
School District, asserting she was constructively discharged from
her position on the basis of her gender.
The trial court granted summary
judgment for the District, and the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed,
finding that she failed to demonstrate she was subjected to
intolerable working conditions.
Prior to Stansbury's
demotion, she was placed on a plan of awareness (a precursor to a
plan of assistance) which addressed "a barrage of deficiencies,
including mismanaging communication with staff before a planned
leave, missing a professional development meeting because she was
double-booked, and failing to correct the school's declining
A year later her supervisor told Stansbury
she had a choice — she could take a reassignment as a middle
school assistant principal or resign. The new position would have
the same pay and work the same hours, though with less
responsibility and control.
The District notified Stansbury
of her demotion in March, and she resigned in August. She never
started the new position and never signed her contract.
Stansbury claimed she was constructively discharged by the
District when she was given no choice but to accept the assistant
principal position with no hope of promotion or resign. However,
Stansbury made no attempt to address her concerns through
appropriate channels in the school district—such as the grievance
process. She did not reach out to the human resources department
or the school board—to give the District a reasonable opportunity
to explain how her pay or tenure might be impacted—before
The court pointed out that "Constructive
discharge exists when the employer deliberately makes an
employee's working conditions so intolerable that the employee is
forced into an involuntary resignation." However, "Without having
taken the new assistant principal job, she cannot point to
conditions so intolerable as to constitute constructive
discharge—as theoretical intolerability premised on suppositions
cannot amount to unusually aggravated working conditions that
would cause a reasonable person to quit."
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