Constructive discharge occurs when an employee resigns after experiencing unbearable working conditions that caused their resignation.
The negative working conditions must be such that a reasonable person would not continue working and thus the resignation is treated as a dismissal by the employer.
An employee who has been constructively discharged may be able to file a complaint against the employer as if the employer had wrongfully terminated their employment.
Constructive discharge can be difficult to prove but is similar to proving wrongful termination and workplace discrimination claims. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC provides three main factors in determining whether a constructive discharge occurred:
Depending on the state, there may be other considerations such as how many incidents occurred and their severity. Time between the intolerable behavior and the resignation is also relevant.
For example, employee A is harassed by employee B and the employer immediately terminates B to improve A’s workplace. A continues to work for a significant amount of time without any other incidents and then resigns. It is unlikely that A’s resignation is due to B’s harassment.
The following are examples of working conditions that can cause employees to claim a constructive discharge:
It is important to note that intolerable conditions can be created by other employees similarly situated to the employee making a claim of constructive discharge.
It is not necessary that the conditions were created solely by a supervisor or authority figure in the workplace; the failure of the employer to correct or stop the condition may create the liability for the discharge.
If an employee is successful in a claim for constructive discharge, they may entitled to the following relief:
Constructive discharge claims are complicated and difficult to prove. If you are suffering intolerable working conditions, contact a local employment lawyer before resigning to ensure the best way to handle the situation so that your future claim is more successful.
Different states have varying factors and elements. Consulting an employment lawyer can help you understand what is required and how to prove your claim. A lawyer can prepare your case and represent you in settlement negotiations and in court.
Last Modified: 07-24-2018 07:41 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.