When illegal activities occur at a workplace, sometimes an honest employee alerts law enforcement to the situation. While this is a noble act, unfortunately some whistleblowers face adverse actions from their employers. However, given that retaliation is illegal under anti-discrimination laws, an employer may try to force a whistleblower to leave.
Some employers think they can get around anti-discrimination law by coercing a worker to quit. Still, federal law looks at this situation as a constructive discharge and could hold the employer accountable for it.
Why a constructive discharge is illegal
As Indeed explains, the issue with a constructive discharge is that your resignation is not truly voluntary. An employer may make your job experience unbearable in a number of ways, such as denying you perks or a promotion, shutting you out of meetings, or subjecting you to harassment. In the end, you decide you have to leave because you cannot tolerate the psychological and emotional stress of your workplace.
A constructive discharge may cause you further loss in addition to your job. If your employer had outright fired you, you might have received unemployment benefits or some forms of compensation. However, your employer could take the occasion of your “voluntary” departure to deny you any benefits.
Proving constructive discharge
A constructive discharge can be embarrassing and destructive to your emotional health. Fortunately, you may seek damages against your employer for your ordeal.
To prove you underwent a constructive discharge, you will likely have to show that your employer had allowed the hostile work environment to happen or actually instigated it. Since incidents of harassment vary, your case will depend on your circumstances and the evidence you present supporting your claim.