The HR Dictionary

Constructive Discharge

The term ‘constructive discharge’ is used when an employee’s resignation or retirement may be found not to be voluntary because the employer has created a hostile or intolerable work environment or has applied other forms of pressure or coercion which forced the employee to quit or resign. This often arises when an employer makes significant and severe changes in the terms and conditions regarding employment. 

What constitutes a constructive discharge is usually defined in state law and varies from state to state. An unjustifiable and significant wage decrease or a reduction in responsibility is one example of behavior that could result in uncomfortable working conditions, a humiliating transfer to a less desired post or demotion, an unpleasant or intimidating environment, encouraging an employee to leave while threatening to fire them are all constituted as intolerable working conditions which leads to a constructive discharge.

Constructive Discharge in the US

When a worker is forced to retire because of unpleasant working conditions that go against the legislation defined in the:

Constructive discharge in the UK 

Constructive discharge in the UK is governed by section 95(1)c of the Employment Rights Act 1996.