If you felt forced to leave your job because the environment was unbearable, the terms constructive discharge and wrongful termination may come to mind.
While both terms relate to ending employment, the main difference between wrongful termination and constructive discharge is the person who ends the employment relationship.
In constructive discharge cases, the employee terminates the relationship, whereas in wrongful termination cases, the employer ends it.
In this article, we will explore what is constructive discharge and how to prove you were constructively discharged.
What Is Constructive Discharge?
Constructive discharge occurs when an employee resigns due to intolerable working conditions. Rather than being fired, the employee voluntarily quits because they feel there is no other reasonable alternative.
Here are some common examples of working conditions that may be grounds for a constructive discharge claim:
- Sexual harassment;
- Hostile work environment;
- Illegal discrimination based on sex, race, religion, etc.;
- Retaliation against an employee who filed a valid complaint; and
- Bullying in the workplace by co-workers or supervisors.
While it’s easy to define constructive discharge, proving it can be more difficult.
How Does an Employee Prove Constructive Discharge?
Quitting your job because of unfair treatment is not enough to bring a constructive discharge claim. Rather, the employee must be able to prove the following:
- The working conditions were so intolerable that any reasonable person would quit; and
- The employee quit because of the intolerable conditions.
Intolerable work conditions can include sexual harassment, discriminatory practices, violent acts, illegal requests, and coercive or deceptive conduct.
You do not have to prove that your employer intended for you to quit but only that their actions are what made you believe you had to resign and that any reasonable person would have done the same.
When an employee voluntarily leaves a job, typically they lose the right to unemployment benefits, due process through their employer, and bringing a wrongful discharge claim.
This incentivizes the employer to create an intolerable environment and force the employee out rather than firing the employee.
How Long Does a Federal Employee Have to Bring a Constructive Discharge Claim?
To file a constructive discharge claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal employees have 45 days from the date the employee resigns, not the date of the last intolerable act or acts.
There are different deadlines if you are bringing your claim through the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), generally 30 days from the date of resignation.
To ensure you do not miss the filing deadline or lose the opportunity to protect your rights, consult with an experienced federal employment lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing
Our attorneys will evaluate the events surrounding your employment resignation to determine whether you can bring a constructive discharge claim against your employer.
We dedicate our practice to protecting the rights of federal employees. Let us fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling 866-690-8076 or filling out our contact form online.