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Constructive discharge: I was forced to quit my job. Is that Illegal?

Constructive discharge occurs when an employer allows illegal working conditions that are so intolerable that a reasonable person would feel forced to resign. The operative words are “illegal working conditions.” The employee’s subjective views are not relevant. The question is objective: did the employer commit some illegal act that made the employee feel he or she had no other options?

For example, I represented an employee who received sexually harassing emails from the president of the company. Her decision to quit was the result of constructive discharge. She received a substantial settlement. Another client, who was the recipient of excellent performance reviews, ended up feeling unsafe in her job after she reported financial fraud, racial harassment, and physical threats. She resigned in order to avoid further retaliation. She received a substantial settlement based on several claims, including constructive discharge.

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
233 Needham Street, Suite 540
Newton, MA 02464


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