When an employer communicates to you that you are being fired, then you are actually being discharged. However, there are times that an employer’s conduct forces an employee to quit. As explained below, that type of resignation may be treated as though the employee was fired.
Constructive Discharge within the Harassment Context
A workplace harassment victim must prove that the employer’s conduct was so outrageous, coercive or unconscionable that any reasonable employee would have quit under the same circumstances to establish what is called "constructive discharge" (meaning that the law construes the quit as a firing).
This may be proved by looking at:
- The nature of the harassment
- The closeness of the working relationship between the harasser and the victim
- Whether the employee resorted to internal grievance procedures
- The responsiveness of the employer to the employee's complaints
- All other relevant circumstances
This is a very high legal burden to meet, as the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that an employee should do everything she/he can within reason to remain employed.
Constructive Discharge within a Contract Context
The vast majority of employees are employed at will. This means an employee can be fired for any reason unless the motivation behind the firing violates a law, or if the firing violates a written employment contract.
New Jersey courts have held that where an employee enters into a written contract for a specific period of time with an employer to perform a specific job and/or job duties and if the employer changes the job title and reduces the employee's job responsibilities without the employee’s permission, then the employee may resign and sue for breach of contract on a constructive discharge claim.
Medical Inability to Work
If the employee can show that the employer’s unlawful conduct caused the employee to suffer from a medical and/or psychiatric condition that prevents her/him from working, then the employee can quit and recover his or her lost pay and benefits as though he or she was fired. This requires expert medical or psychiatric testimony.
Why Choose Green Savits, LLC
The laws governing constructive discharge cases are very complex and require the assistance of an experienced employment law attorney to ensure your rights are fully protected. With more than 50 years of combined experience handling constructive discharge cases, the New Jersey employment law attorneys at Green Savits, LLC, have the skills to help you achieve a successful outcome to your case. We know the state laws which apply to your case, and we will fight aggressively to ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.