Constructive Discharge Claims
Constructive discharge, also known as constructive dismissal, is a type of claim against an employer for wrongful termination. Constructive discharge occurs when an employer chooses to deliberately make an employee’s working environment so unbearable the employee feels compelled to resign.
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Constructive Discharged & Discrimination
Constructive discharge is a type of discrimination that is used as a tool to push people out of employment with the entity they work for. For example, it could be used as a racism tool to push a minority out of the company, or it could be used to violate the rights of freedom of religion in the work-place by terminating them through no fault of their own. An employer could even have someone removed over a personality conflict. Whatever the case, constructive discharge is an act of employment discrimination. Understanding laws regarding constructive discharge is important because, although an employee who quits their job is usually prevented from filing a lawsuit, the laws governing constructive discharge would allow the employee to argue that the true cause of the termination was the fault of their employer.
Texas Law and Constructive Discharge
Texas courts use six factors to assess whether an employee was constructively discharged, fired or terminated. They are as follows:
- The employee was demoted.
- The employee’s salary was reduced
- The employee’s job responsibilities were reduced.
- The employee was reassigned to menial or degrading work.
- Badgering, harassment, or humiliation by the employer was calculated to encourage the employee to resign.
- The employee is offered early retirement that would make the employee worse off financially, or otherwise, whether they accepted the offer or not.
When it comes to laws regarding constructive discharge, the courts require evidence of bad acts or aggravating factors by the employer. Any number of factors mentioned in the above list or other bad treatment may be sufficient to establish a forced resignation, therefore creating a strong case for constructive discharge. A court will consider and interpret all these factors and will decipher to what degree the employee was impacted. For example, how much did their salary change, how were the hours they worked affected , or in what way were they harassed or humiliated.
Proving Constructive Discharge
For an employer to be held liable for terminating an employee under constructive discharge employment laws, the employer must have “caused” the termination. So, to have an iron clad case against an employer, the individual in question will have confronted the employee with an ultimatum: resign or be fired. In a case such as this, there is no question that the employee was involuntarily terminated. Regardless of the employee’s choice, they were going to be let go from their position. When filing a claim for unemployment the Texas Work Force Commission differentiates between an employee who resigned and an employee who was terminated. An employee who resigned will not get unemployment benefits unless the employee can prove there was a reasonable reason for doing so.
Should you Stay or Resign
At times, a workplace can become so hostile or intolerable that an employee feels it’s in their best interest to discontinue working for their employer, reasoning that it will be better for them in the long run to quit, before they get fired. If you now find yourself in this situation, or you feel you have been wrongly terminated, please contact the attorney’s office of Matt Scott. We are qualified employment attorneys who can help you determine if your truly have an employment discrimination case. We know how to handle constructive discharge lawsuits and will help you get the results that you need. Please call today to speak with an employment specialist.