In some instances, it is necessary for an employee to quit their job based upon work conditions or the way that they were treated in the workplace. When an employee resigns under these circumstances, it is called a “constructive termination.” When this occurs, the former employee is treated under the law as if they were fired thereby affording them certain rights that are not typically available to employees who quit their jobs, including the right to receive unemployment benefits and to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the employer.
Florida Constructive Termination
Constructive discharge is a legal concept that was first developed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the early days of the labor union movement in the United States. The concept was developed in the 1930s to stop efforts by employers to discourage employees from unionizing or forcing union employees to resign from their positions. Instead of openly discouraging union activity, some employers created intolerable working conditions with the specific intention of forcing employees to resign. Employers often retaliated against employees who had made efforts to form unions. When these employees were forced to resign because of intolerable working conditions, they sued, relying on the constructive discharge provision adopted by the NLRB in the National Labor Relations Act (“the Act”).
Constructive Termination Based Upon Clearwater Discrimination
The U.S. Supreme Court extended the legal concept of constructive discharge to cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the federal laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment in employment based on certain protected characteristics. If an employee is harassed or discriminated against because of their gender, race, religion, sex, nationality, age or disability, and it causes them to terminate their employment, they may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit
Intolerable Florida Working Conditions
To proceed with a claim for workers’ compensation based upon constructive termination, it may be necessary to demonstrate that the harassment or discrimination created such intolerable working conditions that the employee was forced to quit their job. A Clearwater workers’ compensation attorney can review your case to determine if the working conditions imposed were objectively intolerable, meaning that the working conditions were so bad that the average person in the same situation would also have been compelled to resign. The resigning employee must prove that the employer engaged in especially egregious conduct, such as physically harassing the employee, demoting him or her in a humiliating way, or other similar actions.
Damages for Constructive Termination in Florida
An employee with a constructive discharge case may be entitled to money damages from their former employer. The damages available depend on the legal claims that can be made and the facts of the case and can include:
- Wages: Back pay or the wages or benefits lost as a result of being forced to quit.
- Pay: Front pay; the wages or benefits lost going forward, until new employment is located.
- Fees: Attorneys’ fees and court costs.
- Pain and Suffering: Damages for the pain and suffering or mental distress experienced because of the discharge.
- Punitive: Damages intended to punish a former employer for especially egregious misconduct.
- Unemployment Benefits: Employees are typically eligible to collect unemployment when they voluntarily terminate their employment. However, where an employee was forced to quit in a constructive discharge, they may still qualify for unemployment benefits
Contact a Clearwater Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Constructive discharge cases can be difficult to prove. The employee must show not only that the employer acted illegally, but also that the behavior was bad enough to compel a reasonable employee to quit. Courts tend to hold employees to a very high standard requiring proof that the working conditions were truly intolerable. Because of the complexity of the laws applicable to constructive discharge, it is important to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights and legal remedies. At the Dolman Law Group in Clearwater, Florida, our team of highly skilled workers’ compensation attorneys can review your case, discuss your legal options, and help you to receive your rightful compensation. Please call our office at 727-451-6900 today.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 3375