Constructive Discharge in California

By Gregory Thyberg on July 23, 2020


Frustrated employee

Firing an employee for reasons that are protected by law is explicitly illegal, even in at-will employment states. Constructive discharge is a slight variation on this: it protects the rights of employees who are forced to resign because of an unsuitable work environment. 

Constructive discharge in California can be tricky to prove. However, as a wrongful termination lawyer, Gregory A. Thyberg has extensive knowledge in this area of the law. When employees in the Sacramento, CA, area are driven to resign due to an unbearable work environment, Mr. Thyberg can assist them in filing a claim to seek compensation for related damages.

Understanding Constructive Discharge

Before you can pursue a wrongful termination claim related to constructive discharge, it helps to understand exactly what this area of the law refers to. Many job environments are unpleasant, or involve boring or intolerable tasks. However, just because one does not enjoy their job and chooses to quit, that does not entitle them to file a constructive discharge claim.

For a situation to be classified as constructive discharge, the California Supreme Court has ruled that an employer must intentionally create, or knowingly allow, work conditions that are so intolerable that any reasonable person in the same situation would choose to resign.

In most cases of constructive discharge, it is not just that the general work environment is miserable. Rather, the hostility is targeted at a specific employee. In other words, an employer wants an employee to quit, so they purposefully create a work environment that is intolerable for that person.

Proving Constructive Discharge

As with any other wrongful termination case, it is virtually unheard of for an employer to admit to constructive discharge. To prove wrongful termination involving constructive discharge for his Sacramento clients, Mr. Thyberg must demonstrate a few key factors:

  • Employee’s working environment was exceptionally miserable or unbearable
  • Conditions were such that any reasonable employee who wanted to continue working would be compelled to quit
  • Employer was aware of the intolerable work environment and did nothing to correct it
  • There were underlying reasons for the constructive discharge, such as discrimination or retaliation

Wrongful termination can easily become a case of one person’s word against another’s, which is why it is important to have concrete evidence that backs up any claims of constructive discharge. Types of evidence that may be used to support wrongful termination claims include:

  • Inter-office communications
  • Employee reviews
  • Witness testimony

What Types of Damages Are You Due?

Normally when a worker resigns from their position, they are not provided any type of benefits, including a severance package or unemployment pay. However, if our Sacramento clients have been victims of constructive discharge, they may be due substantial financial compensation. Depending on the circumstances of each case, our clients may be due damages for:

  • Back pay
  • Front pay
  • Wages or benefits until a new job is found
  • Mental distress or emotional suffering
  • Legal fees

Contact Us

If unacceptable work conditions compelled you to quit your job, you may have grounds to file a wrongful termination claim. To learn more about your legal rights from attorney Gregory A. Thyberg, send us a message at your earliest convenience or call our practice at (916) 204-9173.

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