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Constructive Termination

San Francisco, California Employment Attorneys

The term “constructive termination” describes the situation in which an employer makes job conditions so intolerable that the employee is forced to quit.  Those employees may have legal rights to compensation when this happens.

Employers use many methods to force people out their jobs. For example, they might freeze an employee out of important meetings, give the employee demeaning tasks to perform, or increase or decrease work hours to an unacceptable level.  They may allow the targeted employee’s co-workers to sexually harass her, or permit her supervisor repeatedly to pass her over for a promotion because she is African-American.  Whatever the method, the goal is to make the work environment so miserable that the employee will simply quit.

What Motivates the Employer?

There are many reasons an employer might try to force an employee out of the job, from personality conflicts to dissatisfaction with performance.  However, this method of going about discharging an employee can leave the victim confused and angry.  Why would a supervisor, upper management or the boss do this?  The answer is probably a simple one, such as:

  • Management is uncomfortable with confrontation and wants to avoid directly disciplining or firing the employee
  • The manager gets personal satisfaction from being a bully
  • Management erroneously believes that the company is protected from suit for wrongful termination if the employee leaves “voluntarily"

Damages Available to Victims of Constructive Discharge

Each case of constructive termination is different. When determining what damages are appropriate, the employer’s level of fault and the type of harassment may be weighed against any fault on the part of the employee. Depending upon the facts of your particular case, you may be entitled to recover:

  • Back pay
  • Pay that you would have earned in future had you not been forced out
  • Damages for mental distress brought on by your constructive discharge
  • Punitive damages; and/or
  • Attorneys’ fees

When You Are the Victim of Constructive Termination

What can you do when your boss or supervisor uses pressure to force you out of your job?

If you have quit due to your employer’s wrongful actions, don’t despair.  Even though you are the one who ended the employment relationship, you have not necessarily let your employer off the hook.  Courts may treat an employee’s resignation as a constructive termination if it can be shown that the employer deliberately made working conditions so intolerable that any reasonable employee in that situation would do the same thing.

Don’t let your employer get away with unlawfully taking away the job you trained for and worked hard to get.  To find out if your situation entitles you to relief for constructive discharge, talk to an experienced California wrongful termination lawyer.  With the advice of an expert employment law attorney, you’ll get the answers you need.

The Angela Alioto Law Group is dedicated to helping people who have been treated unfairly by their employers.  Contact our firm at 415-434-8700 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.