Westlake Village (818) 990-1999
Los Angeles (310) 981-3404
Constructive Discharge and Wrongful Termination: Can I Still Sue if I Quit?
On behalf of The Kaufman Law Firm posted in Wrongful Termination on Friday, May 18, 2018.

You may have a variety of reasons for quitting your job. Perhaps the hours were terrible, or the pay was less than ideal. But, if you left because your employer made your workplace intolerable, you may have a legal claim.

This type of action is called “constructive discharge.” Essentially, your employer has made your work environment so bad and is unwilling to correct problems that you feel forced to resign. When this happens, you need to talk to a wrongful termination attorney in Los Angeles. You may have legal options.

Breaking Down Constructive Discharge

Constructive discharge occurs when your employer takes action (or declines to act) that makes your job harder to do or just plain miserable. It is often associated with a discriminatory or illegal motive.

For example, imagine that you have just reported your employer to OSHA because of various safety violations. Your employer finds out that you were the one that talked to OSHA. From that point forward, your employer gives you terrible work assignments that are far away from your home. This forces you to travel away from your family regularly even though your employer told you when you were hired that you would only have to travel a few times per month. The time away from your family makes home life difficult and you are forced to quit. You feel like you do not have any choice but to resign because being away from your family is not an option for you.

These situations occur when the employer wants to get rid of an employee for a reason that is illegal or discriminatory, but he or she knows that terminating your employment outright is likely unlawful. Constructive discharge in this context is based on either retaliation or discrimination.

Suing for Constructive Discharge

Many people make the mistake of assuming that if they quit their job, they give up their legal rights to sue. This is not true—you can still assert a claim for wrongful termination even if you quit in some circumstances. However, you must feel like you do not have any other choice before you quit. Simply resigning for no legitimate reason, even if it was after you engaged in a protected activity, will generally not be grounds for a wrongful termination claim.

To prove a wrongful termination case based on constructive discharge, you must show:

  1. The working conditions were so intolerable that it would make any reasonable employee want to quit their job and
  2. The employer knew about the working conditions (or caused them) and allowed them to continue.

You can also show that the employer intended to make your working conditions so bad that it would force you to quit. Evidence like this is hard to come by, which is why showing that the employer knew about the conditions and did nothing is often enough to indicate that a constructive discharge occurred. However, in some circumstances, a manager or supervisor will tell others that he or she is trying to get you fired or make you quit for one reason or another—that type of information would be very valuable to your case.

If you recently quit your job, and you think that decision was forced upon you, you may have been constructively discharged. Talk to a Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney to learn more about your legal rights. Matthew A. Kaufman can help. Contact us for more information.

Share on: