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What is constructive discharge?

You weren't fired, but your boss or others at work made your life so miserable that you felt you had no choice but to quit your job. Can you take legal action against your employer since technically you voluntarily left? You may be able to if you can show that what happened to you was "constructive discharge."

What is that? Some 25 years ago, in a suit brought against Anheuser-Busch, the California Supreme Court determined that constructive discharge "occurs when the employer's conduct effectively forces an employee to resign" due to intolerable conditions.

Of course, what one person finds intolerable, another might be able to live with. The court determined that a case could be considered one of constructive discharge if a reasonable person working in those conditions would feel that resignation was their only choice. A plaintiff must also show that an employer created the conditions or acted in a manner intended to make the employee quit. At least, they must have been aware of the conditions and failed to do anything about them.

All jobs come with some level of stress. We also can't expect all of our managers and colleagues to treat us the way we'd like. However, if your working conditions have become intolerable, you should address your concerns with someone in management or your human resources department.

If conditions don't improve, it may be wise to talk with an attorney before you quit to determine if that action could be considered constructive discharge. Depending on the situation, you might have a discrimination or sexual harassment case.

Even if you likely wouldn't prevail in a constructive discharge suit, it might still be best to leave your job anyway for the sake of your own mental and physical health. However, it's good to know what your legal options are first.

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Mohajer Law Firm, APC

Mohajer Law Firm, APC
33 E. Huntington Dr.
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Arcadia, CA 91006

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