Constructive termination is also called constructive discharge or constructive dismissal. These are the legal terms for a situation that’s very common, but not necessarily understood by the employees who experience it. It describes the harsh realities or intolerable circumstances that make it necessary for an employee to quit instead of waiting to be fired. In essence, it means an employee was terminated by default due to the conditions and circumstances in the workplace, not by actual notice given by the employer.In most cases, quitting your job means you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. That fact is not lost on your former employer. Avoiding an unemployment claim can be the motivating factor causing employers to tolerate or even to instigate situations in the workplace that would offend and drive off any reasonable person. It’s a discouraging reality many NJ employees face every day.
In most cases, quitting your job means you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. That fact is not lost on your former employer. Avoiding an unemployment claim can be the motivating factor causing employers to tolerate or even to instigate situations in the workplace that would offend and drive off any reasonable person. It’s a discouraging reality many NJ employees face every day.
However, proving a case of constructive termination is not a simple matter of expressing your personal opinion. There are specific legal elements you need to show in order to prevail in a lawsuit, and they come under the general description of a “hostile work environment.”
What Is a Hostile Work Environment?
The law defines a hostile work environment very specifically. It’s not a subjective phrase open to interpretation or opinion. Even though many employees quit their jobs because they feel they are being treated in an unfair or even an abusive way, and they may be right, that’s not enough to establish a case in a NJ court of law.
There are definite categories of behavior the federal government has defined and identified as those contributing to and creating a hostile work environment. If your situation does not fit in one of these categories protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or another law specifically protecting your rights, you will have a hard time proving constructive termination from your job in New Jersey.
You will need to prove that you faced harassment or discrimination directed against you because of your age, race, sex, national origin, disability or religion. Moreover, you will need to demonstrate to the court that your employer had knowledge of these behaviors and chose to overlook them, effectively condoning them by allowing them to continue.
Other laws protecting your rights that may lead to a successful claim of constructive termination include the Family Medical Leave Act , the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. It is not legal for your employer to deny your rights and protections under federal and state laws, but you will need to prove that your rights were denied when you chose to file a lawsuit.
What is Required To Prove Your Case in NJ Courts?
The following scenarios represent situations where constructive termination may have occurred, and where NJ courts may find in your favor if you can show sufficient proof:
1. You were the victim of sexual harassment by your supervisor or boss.
2. You were discriminated against because of your age, race, national origin, religion or disability.
3. You made a complaint and the harassment got worse in retaliation.
4. You took family leave under FMLA or requested accommodation under ADA or filed for worker’s compensation and suffered mistreatment, loss or discrimination as a result.
5. You filed a whistleblower complaint and suffered retaliation as a result.
This area of the law is complicated, and you’ll need an experienced attorney to assist you in finding the facts of your case and proving them in court.
John J. Zidziunas & Associates can provide you with expert help in your New Jersey legal matters involving constructive termination. Contact us for a 30-minute consultation at no charge, by email or by calling 973-509-8500.
Image courtesy of winnond from FreeDigitalPhotos.net