Sometimes, a workers’ compensation attorney can claim constructive discharge on behalf of their clients. This occurs in several scenarios, sometimes stemming from the workers’ compensation claim itself.
If you needed to quit your job or felt forced out because of the cause of your workplace injuries or as a result of filing a claim, you want to talk with a workers’ compensation lawyer familiar with constructive discharge claims.
Understanding Constructive Discharge in California
Constructive discharge occurs when the employer’s actions force a worker to quit their job. According to Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc. (1994), California case law considers this an involuntary resignation. The employee wishes to continue the employer-employee relationship, but the employer’s actions make it impossible. Legally, California law treats this as a firing. Therefore, any wrongful termination laws apply.
Other names for constructive discharge in California include:
- Constructive termination
- Constructive dismissal
If you can show that your employer created or knowingly allowed intolerable working conditions to exist, you could recover compensation and hold your former employer financially responsible for your losses. Your recoverable damages depend on your case’s facts.
Constructive dismissal can occur because of physical or psychological conditions. In some cases, these intolerable conditions also lead to injuries. Under California law, physical and psychological injuries are compensable through workers’ compensation in many cases. In this instance, you could have both a workers’ compensation and constructive discharge case.
When Can I Claim Constructive Discharge in Relation to a Workplace Injury?
Under California law, there are several ways that wrongful termination—or wrongful constructive discharge—can occur. This includes when the employee is fired or forced to quit because:
- The employer violates a contract or implied contract.
- There is a violation of public policy.
- The worker is a whistleblower.
- There is retaliation for a report of discrimination, workplace harassment, or a workers’ compensation claim.
If a worker feels they must quit their job for any of these reasons, it might be constructive discharge. When it comes to workplace injuries, this generally comes in the form of:
- A workplace that is unnecessarily dangerous and endangers your well-being.
- A manager harasses you or makes comments about your injuries or work.
- You are the victim of intimidation, threats, or retaliation related to your injuries or return to work.
- The employer cuts your hours or takes other adverse action while refusing to provide you with the necessary paperwork to file a workers’ compensation claim.
- The employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim by cutting your hours or pay after you return from leave.
In other words, constructive discharge may occur in one of two ways in relation to a workers’ compensation claim:
- The intolerable condition caused your workplace injuries.
- The intolerable condition occurred because of your workers’ compensation claim.
If either of these occurred in your case, you should consider discussing your options with an attorney right away. They will know how to protect your rights and ensure you seek the compensation available based on your circumstances. You do not have to give up or live with an intolerable condition.
It may be possible to get medical care and wage loss benefits through workers’ compensation while also pursuing a constructive discharge claim against the employer.
What Happens if I Win a Constructive Discharge Case in California?
If you and your attorney can build strong support for your construction discharge case, you can recover wrongful termination damages. This is true even if you quit your job because of the physical or psychological dangers.
You must show that you were forced to quit because of conditions in the workplace. Your attorney can gather evidence to document this. California courts take harassment and retaliation related to workers’ compensation claims seriously. The employer could face serious consequences for forcing you to quit because of your on-the-job injury.
When you win a constructive discharge case, your employer may have to pay you for the time you were without a job. There are also other recoverable damages in these cases. Your attorney can help you understand your options and what a win could look like for you.
Proving Your Constructive Discharge Case With a Workers’ Comp Attorney
California Civil Jury Instructions No. 2510 outlines the necessary evidence in these cases. For a judge to rule on behalf of a worker in a constructive discharge case, there must be solid evidence to show:
- The employer intentionally created intolerable working conditions or allowed them to exist.
- A reasonable employee would feel compelled to resign from the job.
- The worker in question resigned because of the working conditions.
The evidence available and other necessary proof will depend greatly on the connection between your workplace injuries and the reasons why you felt forced to leave your job. Your attorney will know how to build this type of case and pursue it in the courts as necessary.
Employers, supervisors, and human resources personnel know it is illegal to harass, threaten, or retaliate against a worker who files a workers’ compensation claim or misses work due to an on-the-job injury. Doing so and creating an intolerable environment for the employee could support a constructive discharge or wrongful termination case.
An Attorney Can Combat Your Case’s Challenges
Sometimes, it’s hard to prove that your employer created or allowed intolerable workplace conditions to exist. This is especially true in fields with high turnover rates and inherently dangerous environments.
Still, your lawyer will investigate your case and find evidence to support your allegations, which may include eyewitness testimony, photos of certain hazards, and other supporting information. You don’t have to come up with this information on your own; your lawyer manages everything your case entails.
Discuss Your Next Steps With Our Workers’ Compensation Team for Free
KJT Law Group provides free case reviews for workers hurt on the job in California. When you call us, our team will discuss your injury, any issues in the workplace, and your workers’ compensation claim with you for free. We will assess your case and explain how we can help. Contact us today by dialing (818) 507-8525.