What is Constructive Discharge in California?

Constructive Discharge California

Employment issues can arise suddenly and without warning.

A dream job can quickly become a place of unhappiness, sometimes caused by an employer.

You might consider quitting your job and giving up any rights you may be entitled to, but that might not be the end of your story.

You may have legal options. Starpoint Employment Law is ready to help you.

Contact our experienced California employment attorneys today to schedule a free consultation.

Understanding Constructive Discharge in California

It is essential to understand what constructive discharge means and how it can affect you. Constructive discharge is also referred to as constructive dismissal or constructive termination.

Certain situations may arise at work that makes it difficult for an employee to continue their employment.

If conditions are so difficult that an employee sees no other option but to quit their job, they may have a claim for constructive discharge.

Under the theory of constructive discharge, an employee may have a claim for wrongful termination, even if they technically did not get fired.

California is an “at-will” employment state. With at-will employment, an employer can fire an employee without cause or notice. Similarly, an employee can quit without cause or notice.

However, an employee may file a wrongful termination suit if they were fired for illegal or discriminatory reasons.

Wrongful termination claims usually arise when an employee has been fired, but there are exceptions. Constructive termination may give an employee a chance to recover damages.

Constructive discharge cases can be challenging and confusing.

If you believe you have a claim, consult with a California employment attorney.

The Importance of Constructive Dismissal in California

There are major differences between an employee resigning and getting fired from their job. When an employee is fired, they are entitled to certain benefits.

If an employee resigns, they typically forfeit these benefits, which means an employee:

  • Is not entitled to unemployment benefits; and
  • Cannot file a claim for wrongful termination.

Because employees cannot sue employers for wrongful termination if they quit, in the past, this has given employers motivation to attempt to make employees want to resign.

This is where the doctrine of constructive dismissal comes in.

Even if an employee resigns, if there is constructive dismissal, they will be entitled to all of the rights fired employees have.

Constructive dismissal is an important doctrine created to protect employees and their rights.

When Quitting Your Job Becomes Constructive Discharge

There is a significant difference between quitting your job voluntarily and quitting because you felt you had no other choice. The main difference between the two is the reason for leaving.

If unbearable work conditions caused a hostile work environment and you felt you needed an out, this would generally qualify as constructive discharge.

On the other hand, if you were unhappy at your job or felt you were treated unfairly but there was no evidence of intolerable work conditions, you would have no claim for constructive termination in California. 

If you are unsure whether you have a claim for constructive dismissal in California, contact a California employment attorney right away.

Proving Constructive Discharge

To have a claim for constructive discharge, you must satisfy the following elements:

  • You experienced unfair work conditions at the time of resignation;
  • Your employer created or permitted these intolerable work conditions; and
  • The work conditions were so intolerable that any reasonable employee would have felt compelled to resign.

A California employment lawyer can review the details of your case to help establish a claim for constructive discharge.

Examples of Constructive Discharge

Proving your claim for constructive discharge in California can be difficult. To have a claim, an employer’s behavior must have created unacceptable work conditions for an employee. Some constructive discharge examples include:

  • Repeated harassment,
  • Yelling or mistreatment,
  • Intimidation,
  • A reduction in responsibilities or hours, and
  • Risking an employee’s health and safety.

Behaviors that would not qualify as a reason for constructive dismissal include:

  • A demotion,
  • A single instance of mistreatment,
  • Transfer to a different location,
  • Reduction in pay, and
  • Unfair performance evaluations.

There is a thin line between what counts as grounds for constructive discharge and what doesn’t. Discuss your case with a California employment attorney.

Contact a California Employment Attorney

Starpoint Employment Lawyers is dedicated to helping clients experiencing employment issues.

While there are many attorneys in the Los Angeles area, our firm strives to separate itself from the competition with a dedicated team and strong values.

We are committed to providing the best legal representation while showing care and compassion throughout the process.

Contact us online or call (310) 882-7868 today, and let’s discuss your case.

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury and employment law cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.

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