What is Constructive Discharge?

Whether it is a federal discrimination or termination case, many federal employees are curious about constructive discharge and if it may apply to their case. A constructive discharge occurs when an employer wrongfully makes working conditions so intolerable that the employee is either forced to resign or involuntarily retire.

Common examples of constructive discharge in the federal sector include:

  • A federal employee is exposed to continuous discrimination at the workplace and quits the job for the sake of his/her well-being.
  • A federal employer fails to remedy an ongoing sexual harassment case after the victim employee resigns.
  • A federal employee is forced to apply for disability retirement when a federal agency refuses to take steps to reasonably accommodate his/her medical disability.
  • A federal employer refuses to accommodate an employee's medical disability, forcing him/her to apply for disability retirement.

The most important element of a constructive discharge case is whether the employer or agency—through discrimination, harassment, retaliation, etc.—made the employee’s working conditions so atrocious that any reasonable individual in the same scenario would have been forced to resign or retire. This type of complaint can be made to either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), and in other courts.

The following is the telltale signs of a constructive removal/discharge:

  • An employee experiences retaliatory or discriminatory behavior
  • A reasonable person cannot tolerate such retaliatory or discriminatory behavior
  • The intolerable conditions resulted in forced resignation or retirement

If all of the elements have been met, you may file a constructive discharge case against a federal employer.

For more information, contact our Washington D.C. federal employment team at The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC today.