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Constructive Discharge

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Proving Constructive Discharge

To rightfully claim constructive discharge, you'll likely have to prove all factors listed below.

  • Your employer recently changed a working condition that led directly to your resignation and thus, your constructive discharge.
  • The change and your resignation occurred close enough in time, to have established a "cause and effect" relationship.
  • The change was so extraordinary and intolerable, that it would have caused any reasonable employee to quit under the same circumstances.
  • Your employer intentionally created or allowed the change, even though it was predictable that it would compel any reasonable employee to quit (regardless of whether or not your employer specifically tried to force you to quit).

A humiliating demotion, punitive transfer or hostility toward you are among the types of changes that might entitle you to claim constructive discharge after you resign. For example, if you resign because of intolerable discrimination or sexual harassment, or because your employer transferred or demoted you to an undesirable position in retaliation for reporting a wrongdoing, your immediate, resulting resignation might constitute constructive discharge.

Typically, your employer must have recently changed something significant that led to your resignation. Something that's always bugged you and finally led to your decision to quit likely doesn't constitute constructive discharge, because it apparently wasn't extraordinary and intolerable enough to compel you to quit right away. Quitting for petty stuff, such as because your employer moved your office to a cubicle farther away from the break room, is not likely to constitute constructive discharge either. The same goes if your employer made a change for verifiable business reasons and you quit simply because you didn't like the change.

Simply put, if most reasonable employees would have tolerated the change, then your resignation is not likely to be constructive discharge. But if most reasonable employees would quit because the change made working conditions so intolerable that they had no choice, then your resignation might very well be constructive discharge.

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