Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer

Understanding Constructive Discharge in Wrongful Termination

Constructive discharge, or constructive dismissal, occurs when an employee resigns due to intolerable working conditions that would compel any reasonable person to quit. While the employee technically resigns, the law treats this resignation as a termination because the employer’s actions or environment forced it. Understanding the concept of constructive discharge is crucial, especially for those facing wrongful termination or discrimination in the workplace. At Azadian Law Group, PC, their experienced wrongful termination lawyers in Los Angeles are dedicated to helping employees navigate these complex issues. This article delves into the intricacies of constructive discharge and provides insights into your legal rights and options.

What is Constructive Discharge?

Constructive discharge happens when an employer creates or allows intolerable working conditions that force an employee to resign. These conditions can include harassment, discrimination, significant changes in job duties, or other actions that make the work environment unbearable. For a resignation to be considered a constructive discharge, it must meet specific legal criteria:

  1. Intolerable Working Conditions
    • The working conditions must be so severe or pervasive that a reasonable person in the employee’s position would feel compelled to resign. This can include ongoing harassment, significant pay cuts, demotions, or unsafe working environments.
  2. Employer’s Knowledge and Failure to Act
    • The employer must have known or should have known, about the intolerable conditions and failed to take appropriate corrective action. This means that the employee usually must report the issues to the employer or an appropriate authority within the organization.

Legal Criteria for Constructive Discharge

  1. Intolerable Conditions
    • The conditions must be more than just minor annoyances or dissatisfaction with job duties. They must be objectively intolerable to the extent that continuing to work would be unreasonable.
  2. Reasonable Person Standard
    • The conditions are evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same situation. This means the conditions must be severe enough that an average person would feel forced to resign.
  3. Employer’s Responsibility
    • The employer must be responsible for creating or allowing intolerable conditions. This includes actions directly taken by the employer or those the employer failed to address adequately after being informed.

Examples of Constructive Discharge

  1. Harassment and Discrimination
    • Persistent harassment based on race, gender, age, disability, or other protected characteristics can lead to constructive discharge. If the harassment is severe and the employer fails to stop it, the employee may have a valid claim.
  2. Significant Changes in Job Duties or Pay
    • Drastic changes in job responsibilities, demotions without cause, or significant pay reductions can create intolerable conditions. These actions can signal that the employer is forcing the employee to quit.
  3. Unsafe Working Conditions
    • A physically unsafe workplace where the employer ignores safety concerns can also lead to constructive discharge. Employees should not have to choose between their health and their job.

Steps to Take if You Believe You Are Being Constructively Discharged

  1. Document Everything
    • Keep detailed records of all incidents and communications related to the intolerable conditions. This includes emails, memos, performance reviews, and witness statements. Documentation is crucial for building a strong case.
  2. Report the Issues
    • Inform your employer about the conditions and allow them to address the problems. Use formal channels, such as HR or a supervisor, and document your reports and any responses.
  3. Seek Legal Advice
    • Consult a Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer to evaluate your situation and discuss your legal options. An experienced attorney can help you understand whether your resignation could be considered a constructive discharge and guide you through filing a claim.

Legal Remedies for Constructive Discharge

  1. Filing a Claim
    • If you believe you have been constructively discharged, you can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). These agencies investigate claims of discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination.
  2. Lawsuit for Damages
    • You may also file a lawsuit against your employer seeking damages for lost wages, emotional distress, and other related losses. An experienced Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer can help you build a strong case and pursue the compensation you deserve.
  3. Reinstatement
    • In some cases, reinstatement to your former position may be an appropriate remedy. This is more common in cases where the intolerable conditions were due to a specific individual’s actions, and that person is no longer with the company.

The Role of a Los Angeles Disability Discrimination Lawyer

Constructive discharge cases often involve elements of discrimination, including disability discrimination. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations. If an employer fails to provide reasonable accommodations or creates a hostile work environment due to an employee’s disability, it can lead to constructive discharge.

  1. Evaluating Disability Discrimination Claims
    • A Los Angeles disability discrimination lawyer can help evaluate whether your constructive discharge claim involves elements of disability discrimination. They will review your case, gather evidence, and determine the best action.
  2. Filing Discrimination Complaints
    • If disability discrimination is a factor, your attorney can assist you in filing complaints with the EEOC or DFEH. These agencies enforce anti-discrimination laws and can investigate your claims.
  3. Pursuing Legal Action
    • In addition to filing administrative complaints, your attorney can represent you in court, seeking damages for discrimination and wrongful termination. This can include compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, and punitive damages.


Constructive discharge is a serious issue that can significantly impact your career and well-being. If you believe you have been forced to resign due to intolerable working conditions, it is essential to understand your legal rights and options. At Azadian Law Group, PC, their wrongful termination lawyers in Los Angeles are committed to helping employees navigate these challenging situations and pursue justice. Whether you are dealing with general wrongful termination or disability discrimination, their experienced attorneys are here to provide the guidance and support you need.

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