What Is Constructive Discharge in the Workplace?

Constructive Discharge in the Workplace

In the workplace, some employers use harassment and other forms of discrimination to force employees to resign. When this happens, the employee may have a case for constructive discharge. Constructive discharge functions legally as a constructive dismissal and can form the basis for a wrongful termination lawsuit against the employer.

The concept of constructive discharge arose out of the union movement when some employers refused to allow workers to form a union and bargain collectively for higher wages, better working conditions and other benefits. Some employers went so far as to use physical violence in an attempt to deter worker efforts to organize. As a result, many workers resigned from their jobs rather than continue to work in intolerable circumstances.

For an employee to have a valid constructive discharge claim, they must show that they were forced to quit their job because of intolerable working conditions. The complaint must also be based on conduct that is illegal, such as discrimination or harassment.

Generally, the intolerable working conditions must be severe enough to cause an average person in the complainant’s shoes to feel that they have no other choice but to resign from their job. Unlike regular job dissatisfaction, the intolerable working conditions must be a direct result of the discriminatory conduct. Generally, the intolerable working conditions need to be so severe that it is impossible for an average person in the complaining employee’s shoes to work under the current conditions.

What Is Constructive Discharge in the Workplace?

It is important to note that the intolerable working conditions must be compared to how the person was able to perform their job before the employer’s actions. This is why it’s so difficult to prove a constructive discharge claim. In most cases, a constructive discharge case will only succeed if the complaint was successful in showing that the intolerable working conditions were caused by unlawful conduct such as harassment or discrimination.

Some examples of intolerable working conditions that might qualify for a constructive dismissal lawyer near me claim include being demoted or being passed over for a promotion, being given menial tasks, being reassigned to work under a younger supervisor (for age discrimination claims) or harassment calculated to cause resign. These types of actions would be considered constructive discharge if the employer was motivated by a discriminatory reason such as gender, race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.

If you have questions about whether a situation might constitute constructive discharge, contact an experienced West Palm Beach business litigation lawyer. A qualified attorney can help you determine the strength of your claim and provide guidance regarding next steps. They can also advise you about whether it might be possible to file a claim under other federal or state employment laws, such as the Family Medical Leave Act or anti-retaliation statutes. Call Pike & Lustig today for assistance with your case. Our business litigation attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in a wide variety of employment-related issues, including wage and hour disputes, discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, unfair pay practices and other related matters.

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