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What Is Constructive Discharge?


Office worker carrying box of belongings
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Definition: Constructive discharge occurs when an employee is forced to quit because the employer has made working conditions unbearable. Unbearable conditions include discrimination or harassment, or receiving a negative change in pay or work for reasons that are not work-related.

While employees who voluntarily quit are typically not expected to receive unemployment benefits and lose the right to sue the company for wrongful termination, constructive discharge is an exception. If an employee feels he or she was forced to leave a job because the employer made the job so unbearable, he or she can file a wrongful termination suit against the former employer. In this case, being compelled to quit is legally similar to being unfairly discharged.

If you believe your termination was wrongful and you have been constructively discharged or you have not been treated according to the law or company policy, you can get help. The US Department of Labor, for example, has information on each law that regulates employment and advice on where and how to file a claim.

Your state labor department may also be able to assist, depending on state law and the circumstances.

Constructive Discharge and Unemployment

When constructive discharge occurs you may be eligible for unemployment compensation. If you are not sure whether you're eligible for unemployment, check with your state unemployment office to determine your eligibility for unemployment compensation. If your claim is denied you will be able to appeal and explain the circumstances of your termination.

Also Known As: constructive dismissal, constructive termination

Examples: John believes he was constructively discharged when he felt compelled to quit after his boss decreased his pay and benefits for no performance-related reason.

Read More: 50+ Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Fired

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