FAQS: What Does ‘Constructively Discharged’ Mean?

What Is Constructive Discharge

How does constructive discharge work?

An employee separates themselves from the company in a constructive discharge. Thus, the employee won’t be informed that they’re being constructively dismissed. Instead, it is up to them to acknowledge that the circumstances surrounding their resignation qualify as a constructive discharge.

From the outside, it might appear that the employee simply left their position. People who leave their jobs in the United States are not eligible for unemployment benefits. But if they can demonstrate that a constructive discharge took place, those who have been constructively discharged are qualified for unemployment benefits. It is the duty of employees to present proof of unpleasant working conditions and proof that attempts to improve them either failed or were unsuccessful.

What does it mean to be constructively discharged?

A forced resignation brought on by intolerable working conditions is known as a constructive discharge. If efforts to correct the conditions fail or are ignored, harassment, discrimination, employer retaliation, and a lack of disability accommodations are all regarded as intolerable working conditions. Similar to this, a constructive discharge may result from a pay cut or job promotion based on criteria other than employee performance.

The majority of states in the US have “at-will” labor laws, which allow employers to fire employees for almost any reason. However, your employer cannot fire you for engaging in illegal discrimination because it is against the law in any state. As a result, it is also unlawful for an employer to pressure you into resigning as a result of unlawful discrimination.

You can use a three-point test provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency charged with upholding civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, to determine whether you were subject to a constructive discharge. If any of the following occurred, the EEOC would probably classify your situation as a constructive discharge:

How does a constructive discharge claim work?

It is advisable to seek legal advice before filing a constructive discharge claim to ensure that you have the evidence needed to proceed. This could include any feedback you provided about your working conditions to your manager, upper management, or human resources department, as well as any messages or correspondence you got in response.

The Department of Labor provides state-specific guidelines regarding how soon after your constructive discharge you must submit your claim, so be mindful of timeliness as well. It’s important to note that compared to people working in other industries, federal employees have a much smaller window of time—just 45 days—to submit a constructive discharge claim.

If your constructive discharge claim is successful, you might also be able to recover lost wages, lost benefits, attorney fees, and court costs, depending on your particular situation and legal advice.

Can you get unemployment after constructive discharge?

If you are successful in your claim for a constructive discharge, you will be qualified for unemployment benefits. These are cash benefits based on an amount that varies from state to state as a percentage of your most recent salary. You might need to provide evidence to the unemployment office that your resignation was caused by intolerable working conditions in order to be eligible for these benefits. This might entail attending a hearing where your claim is evaluated by experts.

What if I quit my job without addressing the working conditions?

Making a claim for constructive discharge may be difficult if you quit your job due to unpleasant working conditions but did not try to improve them by speaking with your supervisor or a human resources specialist. Your personal report of the circumstances may not be sufficient from a legal standpoint if it is the only proof you have, as it is up to you as the employee to demonstrate that you were constructively discharged.

If your employer was negligent or harassed, there must be specific proof of that to support your constructive discharge claim, as well as proof that they were made aware of the conditions but did not successfully address them.

I am about to be constructively discharged. What do I do?

First and foremost, it’s crucial to consult with a lawyer who can analyze your situation and give you advice on the specific steps to take to increase the likelihood that your constructive discharge claim will be accepted.

Next, if you have spoken with your manager or human resources about your working conditions, save copies of those conversations, assuming doing so does not conflict with any company policies. Ask your legal counsel for advice if you’re unsure if keeping these communications would endanger your position.

Answer their inquiries about your experiences during your meeting with your legal counsel so they can determine whether your circumstance satisfies this requirement. Be honest and give as much information as you can. Even though it might be difficult to discuss, the precision and specificity of the information you give could be crucial in proving your point.


What is an example of constructive discharge?

Sometimes, constructive discharge occurs when a company forcibly fires a worker. For instance, a manager who threatens to make an employee’s life miserable at work and then actually follows through on that threat has likely constructively terminated the worker.

What is a constructive discharge claim?

A lawsuit brought by a worker who quit their job due to intolerable working conditions is known as a constructive discharge claim. Sometimes an employer willfully create intolerable working conditions with the intention of getting the employee to quit.

What does constructively terminated mean?

A modified claim of wrongful termination is constructive dismissal, also known as constructive discharge or constructive termination. Wrongfully creating intolerable working conditions so that the employee is forced to resign instead of being fired constitutes wrongful constructive dismissal.

What is constructive discharge EEOC?

When an employer discriminatorily creates working conditions that are so challenging, unpleasant, or intolerable that a reasonable person in the aggrieved person’s position would feel compelled to resign, that is the definition of a discriminatory constructive discharge.

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