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Being Charged for Constructive Discharge

Question: 

I just received a claim from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicating a charge for constructive discharge.  What does this mean?  The employee resigned, I’m not sure what I’m being charged with.

Answer:

According to the EEOC, Constructive Discharge is when an employee feels forced to resign because the employer (or those in the workplace) have made the work environment so intolerable that a reasonable person would not be able to stay working.  Constructive discharge alone is not grounds for a lawsuit alone, but it does open the door for a claim of discrimination and a resulting charge.

Some examples of constructive discharge are very obvious and employers should quickly be able to identify illegal activities making employees uncomfortable (verbal or physical threats for example).  Other constructive discharge claims show less obvious conduct such as:

  • Consistently assigning undesirable shifts or job duties,
  • Treating the employee poorly in general, or
  • Making a job difficult by withholding necessary information to do their job.

These three less obvious examples unfortunately happen all too often and we don’t realize it. It is important for HR, owners, and managers to be aware and of how actions could be perceived.

Do difficult situations with employees keep you awake at night? strategic HR inc. understands how conflicts with employees can make or break your day (or a good night’s sleep). Call us when you encounter a difficult situation – we can help coach your managers, suggest solutions or advise you on a specific problem. Learn more about our Employee Relations services by visiting our Employee Relations page.