From our offices in the Detroit area, Akeel & Valentine, PLC serves clients nationwide.

From our offices in the Detroit area, Akeel & Valentine, PLC serves clients nationwide.

Could an employer force a whistleblower to quit?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2022 | Whistleblower

As a whistleblower, you should know that your employer has no legal right to retaliate against you because you exposed wrongdoing at your workplace. Under federal law, your employer cannot fire you for whistleblowing. Knowing this, your employer might attempt to force you to leave your job.

Employers who try to coerce their workers into quitting may feel that they are on safe legal ground. However, the law looks at this situation as a constructive discharge or a constructive dismissal, meaning the employer gave the worker no choice but to leave because the workplace conditions were intolerable.

How constructive discharge works

FindLaw explains that a constructive discharge is a form of wrongful termination since your employer has created work conditions that override your typical motivation to stay at your workplace. In general, a workplace must engage in continually egregious behavior against you in order for your resignation to qualify as a constructive discharge.

Your workplace might also go as far as to require you to commit a crime or engage in a criminal act against you. In these situations, you may decide to leave your job for your own safety and to avoid breaking the law. In court, this might qualify as you leaving because of incredibly negative conditions.

Elements to prove constructive discharge

Difficult or harsh working conditions may not be enough to prove that an employer is trying to get you to quit. A court will likely determine whether a reasonable person in your situation would judge the conditions to be excessively adverse. Your employer should also intend to make your working situation terrible or maintain an existing negative work environment.

Additionally, a court may factor in whether you had notified your employer about your work environment. Usually, employees should let management know about the situation to give the employer a chance to change work conditions. If the employer does not know about your work conditions, it may lessen your chance of proving a constructive discharge claim.