Every year, some California workers experience adverse work experiences that cause them to leave their jobs involuntarily. If your employer has not provided a safe, positive, fair and accommodating work environment, you can elect to leave via constructive discharge. What is this designation, and how does it differ from a firing or layoff?
Constructive discharge is an involuntary resignation
Under employment law, constructive discharge is a legal term that describes when an employee chooses to resign because of a single or a series of untenable situations. The employee determines that they can no longer work in that environment. While the resignation is still technically involuntary, it is deemed absolutely necessary because of the hostile or uncomfortable work environment. That condition is essential to differentiate it from other types of employee separation.
Discrimination, harassment, hostility, job demotion, pay decreases, management disregard, and similar adverse working conditions qualify under constructive discharge. The burden of proof is on the employee to provide that these conditions occurred, thereby making constructive discharge essential.
Constructive discharge differs from voluntary resignations in that you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. To do so, you must provide evidence and a timeline of events leading to the involuntary separation.
Dealing with workplace retaliation and similar situations
Suppose you feel you are working in a hostile environment, suffering workplace retaliation or enduring another situation that makes it impossible to continue in your job. In that case, you can file a claim for constructive discharge. Your claim should fall within the state guidelines. You can also submit a claim to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Claims confirmed as constructive discharge allow unemployment benefits and other possible payments. Depending on your situation, you may be able to recover lost wages and legal fees as part of your settlement.