If I quit my job because conditions were intolerable, do I still have a case?
An employee may still have a case against their employer under the constructive discharge claim. Constructive discharge is when an employee is forced to quit their job because they were subjected to illegal working conditions that were so intolerable they felt they had no other choice.
The employee does not have to actually be fired from their job in order to have a claim. The law treats constructive discharge as an employer firing an employee rather than an employee voluntarily resigning.
In order to prove a constructive discharge claim, the employee must show:
- The working environment or the employer’s conduct was so intolerable that a reasonable person in the employee’s position would have resigned or quit rather than continue working in those conditions.
- The employer knew of the intolerable working conditions. The employee is responsible for reporting the conditions to their boss or other person of authority in the workplace before having a constructive discharge claim.
- The employer failed to fix the situation despite being able to do so.
Simply being treated unfairly is not enough to have a constructive discharge claim. Neither is an employer’s single or small incident of misconduct, such as giving the employee an unfair performance review, a pay cut, demotion, or yelling or humiliating the employee at the workplace.
Intolerable working conditions tend to consist of unusually aggravated behavior or a continuous pattern of misconduct. Some examples of behavior that may give rise to a constructive discharge claim include sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, threats of violence or refusal to accommodate an employee’s disability.
McCormack & Erlich is a San Francisco law firm serving all of Northern California and specializing in the field of employment law. We have extensive expertise in helping people who have been wrongfully terminated and retaliated against recover their damages.