constructive discharge

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Constructive discharge occurs when an employee quits their job in response to working conditions that are so poor that no reasonable person would stay. Like other “constructive” variants, constructive discharge functions in the eyes of the law as if the employee was terminated. 

Because constructive discharge functions as a traditional discharge of an employee, it can serve as the basis for a wrongful termination action. For example, in Porter v. City of Manchester, a social worker who was subject to constant harassment due to his disagreement with upper management successfully showed that he was constructively discharged, which was then used to show that he had been wrongfully terminated. 

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team