Can I sue for wrongful termination if I was forced to quit my job?



Can I sue for wrongful termination if I was forced to quit my job?

If you were forced to quit your job, you may still have a case for wrongful termination based on “constructive discharge.” 

However, it is probably better to call an employment attorney before quitting your job, if at all possible. Not all workplace environments, however toxic they may be, are eligible for a strong claim of constructive discharge.

Constructive discharge may occur when an employer’s actions give the worker no choice other than to resign. For example, no one can be expected to keep working in an environment of ongoing severe and threatening racial discrimination or sexual harassment that the employer refuses to stop. To rise to the level of “constructive discharge,” the environment has to be so bad that no reasonable person would expect the employee to keep working. Discrimination or harassment also has to be based on a “protected class” however—for example, your race, national origin, sex, age, religion or disability as well as sexual orientation/identity and a few other categories. Even the most toxic workplace environments may not run afoul of any law unless they relate to one of the protected classes.  

Refusing to allow you to return to work after pregnancy, disability or medical leave certainly counts as discharge even if the employer claims that it did not actually “terminate” you. If the employer “furloughs” or otherwise refuses to let you return to work and stops paying you, that is also likely a discharge, even if the employer claims otherwise.  

Another example of constructive discharge happens where the employee has a disability—for example, being unable to lift over 10 pounds—which the employer can accommodate but refuses to do so. An employee would not be expected to go against instructions stated on a doctor’s note, even if the employer demands it. 

However, disability cases are complex, as the employer may argue they are unable to provide the accommodation. Again, it is best to call an employment attorney if your employer is refusing accommodation or medical leave rather than quitting.

Constructive discharge cases can be challenging to prove. The right evidence must be provided to convince California courts that wrongful termination has occurred. Do not quit your job based on the assumption that your working conditions may qualify for a constructive discharge claim. Otherwise, you may give up important employee rights.

An experienced San Francisco employment lawyer can determine if you have a case for wrongful termination based on constructive discharge. Contact McCormack Law Firm to learn more about your legal options.

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