Constructive Discharge

Terminations, Separation Agreements & U-5s

Outten & Golden attorneys are experienced in advising and representing employees who have been harassed or abused so severely that their resignation constituted a constructive discharge, and obtaining the best possible severance for them.

When an employee faced with a choice between resignation and continuing to work in objectively intolerable conditions decides to quit, his/her resignation may qualify as “constructive discharge.” (The legal term “constructive” here means “might as well be” or “as good as.”) To qualify as constructive discharge, the resignation must be prompted by truly intolerable conditions; it is not enough to prove that the working conditions were just unpleasant or humiliating. In some jurisdictions, the employee must prove that her employer created the intolerable conditions with the intention of forcing her out.

Constructive discharge most commonly arises from one of two situations: serious sexual harassment, or a manager’s threat to fire the employee if she does not resign. It may also occur in the form of extreme racial harassment or egregious torment of an employee for some other legally prohibited reason (such as agereligionnational origindisability, and, in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation or gender identity).