If an employee comes forward about certain issues related to their job, it is illegal for them to be retaliated against. When they are fired outright, it can be fairly straightforward to show that it was a case of retaliation, but what happens when their employer instead makes working conditions so intolerable than the employee has no reasonable choice other than to quit?
This is called constructive discharge and it is against the law. Keep reading to learn more and contact PLBSH at (800) 435-7542 if you have questions about or need a consultation regarding employment law in California.
The definition of constructive dismissal
If you have to leave your job because the working circumstances are unacceptable, you may be entitled to file a constructive dismissal claim. The situation in certain employment law matters is straightforward. Mary, for example, files a sexual harassment complaint and is swiftly dismissed. In other cases, though, the company does not terminate a person outright.
Instead, they take tactics to make their employee feel compelled to resign. If Mary’s manager didn’t dismiss her but changed her shifts and hours to the point where she felt compelled to leave, Mary may have a claim for wrongful termination, even if she wasn’t fired.
This is known as constructive discharge. In essence, it happens when an employer deliberately creates or enables work circumstances that are so unbearable or aggravating that a reasonable employer would recognize that a reasonable employee in their situation would have no alternative but to resign. In other words, your supervisor made your work life so terrible that you felt compelled to leave.
It is not always grounds for a lawsuit
Constructive dismissal, on the other hand, is not necessarily grounds for a lawsuit. Your supervisor may make your working circumstances uncomfortable in certain situations just because he dislikes you and wants you to leave. Because most non-union employees in California are employed at will, they can be fired at any time for any reason – unless the reason is prohibited, such as discrimination based on race or national origin. If your employer isn’t trying to force you to resign for an unlawful cause, you generally don’t have a case for constructive dismissal.
However, as a California employment lawyer can explain, there are times when constructive dismissal is unjustified, and you may be able to sue your employer for damages. You can make a claim for unlawful constructive discharge if you could have sued your employer for wrongful termination if they had dismissed you instead of constructively discharging.
If you are not sure which category your situation falls into, you can always contact PLBSH at (800) 435-7542 for a free legal consultation.