Constructive Dismissal and Constructive Discharge

If you have been forced to quit your job in a way that amounts to constructive dismissal, or believe that you may be a victim of such an incident, it is important to document the circumstances and speak with a qualified employment attorney right away. Depending on the specifics of your situation, there are various different types of compensation you might be entitled to, including back pay and front pay (lost income while searching for a new job) as well as lost benefits, such as health insurance or pension plans.

To bring a claim for constructive discharge, you must show that your employer’s actions made your working conditions intolerable and a repudiation of an essential term of your contract of employment. Not every workplace issue or difficulty will qualify as a constructive discharge; rather, the actions must be continuous and have an overall pattern that makes continuing to work unreasonably difficult. Additionally, single incidents do not generally qualify as a constructive discharge unless they are extremely serious.

For example, let’s say that your company recently acquired another business and was transitioning into a new system during high-pressure periods of organizational change. Your management failed to allow you sufficient time to learn the new systems and procedures before expecting you to implement them during understaffed periods of high productivity, which resulted in a number of mistakes and a general feeling of overwhelm and exhaustion. Eventually, you became so stressed and upset that you decided to resign, citing the intolerable working conditions as your reason for doing so.

Constructive Dismissal and Constructive Discharge

The legal concept of constructive discharge has been expanded beyond just discrimination and harassment cases under federal employment laws, such as Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. State and local laws, as well as private courts, have extended the concept to encompass many different types of workplace situations that can be deemed as unfair or unreasonable.

The legal concept of constructive discharge is based on an at-will employment relationship, which means that you can be terminated at any time, with or without cause, if your employer chooses to do so.

However, that doesn’t mean that employers are allowed to treat their employees unfairly or in a coercive manner. It is important to note that you can only make a constructive discharge claim against your employer if you feel the working conditions were so unbearable that you were forced to quit your job as a result.

Constructive discharge can also be used to argue a breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which is an essential term of most employment contracts. However, this is a complicated legal argument to make and should not be attempted on your own. If you have questions about constructive discharge or need assistance bringing a claim against your employer, contact Lynch Law Firm for a free legal assessment of your case.

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