Forced to Quit:  An Overview of Constructive Discharge

Florida is a “right to Work” state, meaning that you and your employer have the right to terminate employment at any time, for nearly any reason with or without cause.  There are some exceptions to this rule, most notably federal and state anti-discrimination laws, and whistleblower & retaliation protections.
There is however protections for employees against what is called “Constructive Discharge”.  Constructive discharge is a situation where your employer creates an environment that would “force” you to voluntarily terminate your own employment.
In the state of Florida, employees will have to show that some or all of the following conditions existed to be considered a victim of constructive discharge:

  • The employer creates an environment or adopts a policy that causes mistreatment to one or more of their employees. Mistreatment usually involves some sort of illegal activities, such as discrimination or sexual harassment which has been reported to a supervisor or Human Resources.
  • Once a complaint was made, the mistreatment continued or became even more intense.
  • The mistreatment is so severe that any reasonable employee would rather terminate their employment that be forced to suffer in such an adverse working environment.
  • The mistreatment and voluntary termination occurred in a relatively short period of time, as such to suggest a direct causation.
  • Your employer, after being made aware of a protected activity that you engaged in, made a conscious decision to reduce your work hours, reduce pay or benefits, or other adverse action. (Protected activities include: filing a Worker’s Compensation claim, making a discrimination/ sexual harassment complaint, or sought protection under the Whistleblowers Act)

In short, the courts have held that constructive discharge, also known as “hostile work environment” exists when “working conditions were so intolerable that a reasonable person in their position would be compelled to resign”


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