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What to Do if You've Been Forced to Quit Your Job

What to Do if You’ve Been Forced to Quit Your Job

What you need to know about constructive discharge

Many workers believe that they can’t sue their employers for discrimination or harassment if they left their jobs voluntarily.

That’s simply just not true.

Unfortunately, employees who are unsure of their rights may end up putting up with unlawful behavior far longer than they should. They may believe that they won’t be able to face off against an employer that has more money and resources than they do.

Or, they may mistakenly believe that they don’t have a case because they resigned — even if they did so because they felt they had no choice.

If you believe that you were forced to quit your job because of unlawful conditions or behavior at work, you should know about something called constructive discharge. Let’s talk about what it is and what it means to you.

Unbearable working conditions

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), constructive discharge happens when an employer makes working conditions so intolerable that a reasonable person would not be able to stay.

If an employee is able to make a claim for constructive discharge, the law may treat the resignation the same way it would an involuntary termination.

Often, constructive discharge cases involve discrimination, harassment, or unsafe working conditions.

For example, say a woman makes a complaint that she’s being harassed by her supervisor. If her supervisor then attempts to get back at the woman by threatening her or subjecting her to unreasonable and stressful scrutiny, the woman might feel compelled to quit. She may then have a case for constructive discharge.

Or, perhaps an employee complains about racial slurs, but nothing is done to remedy the situation. After working in an environment where he’s constantly disparaged and called names, the man finally decides to quit. In that instance, the man might have a case for constructive discharge.

What you should do

If you believe that you’ve been subjected to unlawful behavior, it’s important to first follow your company’s procedures for making complaints. (Although it’s important to note that some companies do not have formal procedures in place.)

If the situation isn’t remedied and work conditions become unbearable, seek legal counsel as soon as possible — before quitting your job, if you can.

If you’ve already quit your job, speak to an experienced employment law attorney right away. Keep in mind that constructive discharge cases may have statutes of limitations, so don’t delay in speaking with someone about your rights.

Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.
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