top of page
  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

Do I have a Constructive Discharge Case?

Constructive Discharge Occurs when an Employee is Forced to Quit because of Intolerable Working Conditions

Constructive Discharge: When an employee quits, believing that there is no other option

Sometimes employees face working conditions that are so intolerable they feel there is no other option but to quit. If you are forced to quit because of mistreatment at work, you may have a case of constructive discharge. Whether or not you have a case of constructive discharge will affect your legal rights, since it is seen as a termination in the eyes of the law.

An Example of Constructive Discharge

Suppose an employee is facing sexual harassment from her co-worker. She lets him know that his comments are unwelcome and offensive. She reports his behavior to supervisors and files a complaint with human resources. Her employer takes no action and she still faces the sexual harassment several weeks later. Finally, after facing enough mistreatment, she resigns.

This employee likely has a strong constructive discharge case. The mistreatment she faced was substantial and illegal. She gave her employer ample time to address the issue but the sexual harassment was allowed to continue.

The Basics of Constructive Discharge

You likely have a case if:

  1. Your employer created an intolerable work environment so that you would quit

  2. Your employer allowed for working conditions so intolerable that any reasonable employee would have likely quit

  3. Your employer illegally mistreated you

As in the above example, mistreatment must be substantial. A few instances of name-calling at work do not constitute “mistreatment” in these types of cases. If your employer retaliates against you for, say, filing a worker’s compensation claim or treats you poorly because of your race, that could be considered substantial “mistreatment” since both retaliation and discrimination are illegal. Speak with an employment attorney if you plan to take legal action against your employer because of his or her mistreatment.

How Constructive Discharge Affects your Legal Rights

Pennsylvania is an “at-will” state. This means that, unless you have an employment contract stating otherwise, you can quit for any reason or no reason at all. Once you do, though, you will be ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits. If you are forced to quit (as in constructive discharge), however, you are eligible for benefits.

Additionally, if your case is seen as a constructive discharge and you take legal action, your employer may be required to pay:

  1. Back-pay

  2. Compensatory Damages

  3. Punitive Damages

  4. Attorneys’ fees

If you plan to take legal action against an employer due to mistreatment and think you have a case of constructive discharge, speak with an employment attorney.

Contact KM&A

If you faced mistreatment at work and were forced to quit, talk to a KM&A attorney now to discuss your options for legal remedy. We represent clients across Pennsylvania. In western Pennsylvania, call Pittsburgh at 412-626-5626. In eastern Pennsylvania, call Philadelphia at 215-618-9185. You can also email us at We believe that, in order to aggressively pursue our clients’ interests, we have to be extremely accessible. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free and immediate consultation.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Good Logo.png

Our firm has over 10 years of experience providing world-class legal representation to those who need it. We help employees, entrepreneurs, businesses, and individuals. Based out of Pittsburgh, we work with clients across Pennsylvania.  See what our clients say about us:


"They kept me up to date on all aspects of the case

and were attentive to my needs."

- Donald Bryan


One of our attorneys will review your case within 24 hours,

and we will contact you to discuss further. 

You can also call us directly at (412) 626-5626

Thanks for contacting us! We will be in touch soon

bottom of page