Did you “have to quit” because your work situation was intolerable? Do you feel you had no choice?
Sometimes that’s pretty normal. People often don’t get along and not every workplace is “a good fit.”
But federal and California law both recognize that sometimes “I quit” was really a case of “you’re fired.”
In that case, the employer may have intentionally created a situation so unreasonable that they may be charged with wrongful termination.
Did “constructive termination” happen to you?
Being forced to quit never feels very “constructive,” but it might be a case of what’s often called constructive dismissal, constructive discharge or constructive termination.
Two conditions must be met if the law can treat your resignation as a firing:
- The work situation was so unusually bad that any reasonable person would’ve felt they needed to quit.
- The employer knew the situation was intolerable or specifically intended to make you quit.
For that firing to be “constructive,” there must be an ongoing pattern of rotten behavior or, alternately, even one truly outrageous incident like an act of physical violence or forcing you to commit a crime.
Cases aren’t usually open and shut
In these cases, courts aren't really interested in your feelings or beliefs. The question is whether any reasonable person would find your working conditions unusually intolerable.
You must also show either that the employer or management was told of the situation and didn’t try to correct it, or they specifically intended you to quit.
Nobody is guaranteed a respectful employer. But if an employer violates your contract, requires you to break the law, or intentionally maintains a seriously unfavorable workplace, quitting might be wrongful termination.