Have you ever felt the excitement of your first week at a new job? You alternate between confidence and anxiety. It feels good to know the company chose you out of 200 applicants. But can your hard work justify their faith in your talent?

After a couple of months, you are getting fast and competent at your job, and your personality fits well within the corporate culture. Your boss frequently expresses approval of your work quality.

When did the U-turn sign pop up?

Just about the time your second anniversary arrives, there is a big company shake-up. The economy is struggling, and the stock market is all over the place. Co-workers look nervous and cluster together in hallways, whispering. At the end of a Friday workday, a few employees receive pink slips in their pay envelopes. There is profound silence as the ousted workers clean out their desks and leave their jobs behind. Management has decided to tighten up on personnel. Bosses are under pressure to squeeze every ounce of productivity from their workers.

When work feels like a toxic cloud

Remaining employees fear to lose their jobs. No one dares to complain when your former colleagues’ workloads fall on the remaining staff. You, along with your co-workers, wonder how anyone could finish the heavy load of excess responsibilities in an 8-hour day.

Now, you struggle with nausea and a pounding headache each morning before work. The company dismissed your former boss, and the new manager is a nightmare. She criticizes and micromanages everything you do. She hangs over you and spews verbal abuse. You know her belligerence is unfair, unfounded, and it is eroding your ability to work efficiently.

How to force an employee to quit

Unknown to you, the new boss is doing everything she can to force you to quit. She knows it will make her look good in the eyes of upper management if she can pare her staff down even further.

Soon, strange things begin to happen. One morning, you find the figures look wrong in an expense report you are preparing for the company CFO. You know that you did not make the errors. Someone changed the numbers. It is obvious they are trying to sabotage your work. After this incident and others like it, a pattern emerges. You feel so emotionally destroyed, you know you cannot continue to work here. You gather up your belongings, and you tell the boss you are quitting. You walk out the door, while the boss tries to suppress a smile.

You may be a victim of conductive discharge—an illegal method some companies use to “fire” you by making the work environment so intolerable, any reasonable person would quit. Any employee who is repeatedly bullied or harassed at work may want to get legal help to understand their options.