Over on Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole” subreddit, this question came up a couple days ago:
I had a boss who was a real turd. He labored under the delusion he was an excellent boss and couldn’t put together that his behavior and the crappy pay was why he had such a hard time keeping employees. He also thought it was acceptable to call his female employees hun, sweetie, and sugar. He was a condescending asswipe who consistently passed over more qualified women for promotions in favor of promoting less qualified men. I had to stay until I could find a better job because I enjoy eating, and couldn’t afford to leave unless I had something else. I got an interview with a competitor who hired me on making more than I made with him.
I turned in my two weeks and he said “oh sweetie, you know you can’t leave.” I said I absolutely am leaving. He got the smuggest look on his face and said “Well, I’m not accepting this, sugar. Guess you’re here to stay.” I got so furious and decided that was it. I said “well screw this then, I quit. Effective immediately.” Called my new job, explained what happened in front of him as he sat there slack jawed and agreed start the next day. I packed my stuff and left.
A former coworker said it was an asshole thing for me to just up and quit on the spot, but if he refused to accept the resignation he could easily have tried to screw me over when my last day did come. My new boss says he deserved it and I’m not the asshole for quitting like I did. My boyfriend says he can see how other employees might feel like I was an asshole by making them cover my absence, but sees how I’m not the asshole for walking out of that toxic environment. So just because I’m curious, I thought I’d ask here. AITA?
Yes, she’s the asshole here. So is her boss, don’t get me wrong. But her boss being an asshole doesn’t justify her actions.
Your manager can refuse to accept your resignation
This is the main point that needs to be made. Several people have pointed out that your resignation is not “asking permission to quit”, which is true. It is a notice that you will be leaving. But does your manager have an obligation to accept that resignation? No.
Now this doesn’t mean you can’t leave. Unless a contract says otherwise and your employment is “at will”, you can quit at any time for any reason or none. But remember that how you leave has consequences. Consequences the OP obviously didn’t consider when she let her emotions kick her reasoning abilities out the door so they could steal the show.
Never send your resignation to just your manager
Your resignation really needs to be going to three people in the company: your manager, your HR representative, and your manager’s manager. It really isn’t a good idea to send it just to your manager. And if you don’t have a good rapport with your manager, they may not inform HR of your resignation on your behalf, even if they do “accept” it.
Which opens up a whole new can of worms.
The OP is right when she said this: “if he refused to accept the resignation he could easily have tried to screw me over when my last day did come”. If you believe your manager will try to screw you over on your way out the door, sending your resignation to your HR representative directly along with your manager’s manager makes it a lot less likely that can happen. It doesn’t take the risk down to zero, but it drops it substantially.
Don’t just walk off the job
So what can happen if your manager doesn’t accept your resignation?
Again, he/she may not notify HR that you’ve resigned. And that’s why it’s always best to tell them directly. And if HR isn’t notified that you resigned, if you do leave without them knowing, it looks like you quit abruptly and walked off the job. Not the appearance you want to give. Especially if you expect to use them as a possible reference later. Because if a future prospective employer calls them to verify employment, they can and may tell future prospective employer that you walked off the job.
And you won’t be able to refute that.
And in this instance, if OP finds herself in that situation knowing she did walk off the job, it’ll fast look like she’s badmouthing a previous manager, which is a huge recruitment faux pas. It’ll also look like she’s making shit up since she won’t be able to prove anything she claims. Both of which will torpedo any chance she has. So she’d better hope her now-previous employer doesn’t tell any future prospective employers that she just up and quit. Especially since it sounds like she just left without telling HR why. Which would’ve given her a chance to make a statement about her manager, documenting her claims.
The advance notice (two weeks typical, three if you’re a manager, four or more for executives) became standard to allow for transition and continuation of business with as little disruption as possible given the departure. If you leave abruptly, you leave your employer and team in a precarious situation that could’ve been avoided.
As such, I’ve really got to question the idea the new boss said he deserved it since both are obviously ignoring the collateral damage. It’s like bombing a village to kill a single terrorist: the terrorist might have “deserved” to die, but did everyone else in the village also deserve to die?
As such, did her coworkers and anyone else directly affected by her departure deserve to be put in the situation she left them in?
You have to think beyond just yourself when making these kind of decisions.
But… the boss is a sexist, condescending pig!
That largely doesn’t matter in this circumstance. The boss being an asshole doesn’t justify her actions. The coworker and boyfriend are right. It was an asshole move to abruptly quit on the spot given the precarious situation it left her coworkers.
The right move would’ve been to take her resignation to her manager’s manager and HR. Either walking it to them directly, by e-mail, or however. And letting them know at the same time about the move her direct manager tried to make and letting both of them handle it from there. Given her boss is a sexist, condescending pig, she also could’ve used that to file a formal complaint if one had never been filed against the manager. Which, given his continued conduct, is quite likely since he sounds like a sexual harassment suit just waiting to happen.
Instead she let her emotions get the better of her, and she likely forever tarnished her reputation with that employer, something she may not realize until several years down the line if she intends on leaving her now-current employer.
As such, for the reasons stated above – letting emotion get the better of her and completely ignoring the impact her departure would have on her coworkers and anyone else directly affected – the OP is an asshole.