Constructive Dismissal and Wrongful Termination
If you were forced to quit work due to hostile or intolerable conditions, please know that you have important legal rights. You may be entitled to back pay and other damages through a constructive dismissal claim. In this article, our experienced Philadelphia wrongful termination attorneys highlight issues that workers need to know about constructive discharge and forced dismissals.
Constructive Discharge Forced to Resign: Understanding the Basics
A constructive discharge occurs when an employee quits a job because their employer forced them to endure hostile conditions at their workplace A worker who was constructively discharged — meaning a worker who was forced to resign due to intolerable conditions — retains the legal right to bring a wrongful termination claim.
How to Prove Constructive Discharge is Wrongful Termination
As a starting point, workers should know that nearly every U.S. state operates under an ‘at-will’ employment presumption — this includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. As explained by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), ‘at-will’ employment means that an employer can terminate a worker for nearly any reason or no reason at all.
However, there is a major exception to this rule: an employer cannot terminate a worker for an illegal reason, i.e., unlawful discrimination. Similarly, an employer cannot force an employee to resign or constructively discharge an employee for an illegal reason.
Often, constructive discharge claims involve allegations that an employer engaged in a pattern of sustained misconduct. However, in some cases, a single highly egregious act — such as asking an employee to engage in criminal activity — may be sufficient to sustain a constructive dismissal claim. Notably, these are highly fact specific cases. Constructive discharge claims must always be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Important Considerations: Know Your Employer’s Obligations
It is important to remember that companies are generally not required to provide a “positive”, “stress-free”, or even a “good” environment for their workers. Even unpleasant workplace conditions that would lead a normal person to quit a job are not necessarily legally actionable. To bring a wrongful termination claim after a constructive discharge, an employee must be able to prove that there is a discriminatory or otherwise illegal motive underlying the employer’s conduct.
Compensation Available Through a Constructive Dismissal Claim
If you were constructively discharged, you may have sustained a considerable amount of emotional distress and financial loss. Through a wrongful termination claim, you may eligible to recover financial compensation for your damages. Specifically, a wrongful termination lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation for:
- Lost wages;
- Loss of benefits;
- Other compensatory damages;
- Attorneys’ fees and court costs; and
- In some cases, punitive damages.
Notably, employees only have a limited amount of time to bring a wrongful termination claim. If you resigned from your job because of mistreatment from your employer, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced employment law attorney right away. Your lawyer will be able to assess your case and determine what steps need to be taken to protect your interests.
Get Help From a Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today
At Console Mattiacci Law, our wrongful termination attorneys are strong advocates for our clients. If you were effectively forced to resign, your rights may have been violated. We are here to help. To set up a fully confidential, no obligation consultation, please contact our law firm. With a main office in Philadelphia, we represent clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.