Understanding constructive dismissal

Understanding constructive dismissal

| Feb 29, 2020 | Firm News |

When conditions at work become hostile, many California workers consider finding greener pastures. But sometimes, hostility from an employer indicates a more serious problem than simply finding a new job. Constructive dismissal, also known as constructive termination or discharge, is a form of wrongful termination in which an employer makes workplace conditions so unreasonable that the employee feels pushed to resign. 

Not every adverse situation is grounds for a constructive dismissal lawsuit. The following factors alone do not necessarily constitute a constructive dismissal. However, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office will investigate complaints that relate to these issues. 

  • Demotion 
  • Department or location transfer 
  • Pay reduction 
  • Dishonest performance evaluation 
  • Shift reassignment 

Proving constructive dismissal 

To file a constructive dismissal claim, California workers must prove two things. According to FindLaw, the employee must have evidence to show that the working environment is now so toxic that any reasonable person would feel forced to quit. Employees must have proof that the employer knew about the intolerable conditions or created them to force the resignation deliberately. The situation must be unacceptable to an unreasonable degree when the employee quits. The problem must also be continuous. One-time incidents do not generally hold up in court. 

California’s statute of limitations 

If a worker chooses to file a complaint directly with the Labor Commissioner’s Office, he or she has six months in which to do so. Some issues have different timelines, such as whistleblower actions, victims of sexual assault violence and violations of the Equal Pay Act. However, if the employee misses the deadline, he or she may have the option of filing a private lawsuit against the employer.