Constructive Discharge | Meaning and Definition

What is Constructive discharge?

Involuntary resignation, also known as constructive discharge, is a type of unlawful termination in which an employer’s actions create an unsustainable system in which an employee thinks they have no alternative but to quit. Constructive discharge is interchangeable with constructive dismissal or constructive termination; all three phrases refer to an employee leaving on ostensibly voluntary terms as a result of a hostile work environment or unacceptable working conditions. So because the split is involuntary despite the appearance of a voluntary departure, these scenarios are referred to as release, firing, and cancellation. 

There are multiple different situations in which an employee may feel compelled to quit, but the situation is not unlawful, and hence the resignation is not constructive discharge in the legal sense. The following are some instances of grounds for resigning that do not qualify as a constructive discharge: 

  •   All employees were treated equally when the schedule was changed.
  •   In a jurisdiction where required overtime is permissible, a decrease in hours of mandatory overtime
  •   Unmet expectations result in a demotion, a delay in promotion, a salary cut, or a refusal of a rise.
  •   The resignation was suggested as a better choice than being fired without cause.  

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