I Was Forced to Resign Because of My Disability. What Should I Do?

Most employees work on an at-will employment basis, which means that employers can terminate employment for any reason. However, anti-discrimination legislation prohibits employers from firing an employee because of their disability.

There is an extension to this breach of employment law called constructive discharge. This is when you feel you were forced to resign from your job because your employer created an intolerable working environment primarily because of your disability.

If this has happened to you, you may be able to file a wrongful termination claim against your employer on the grounds of constructive discharge. If you win your claim, you may be entitled to compensation, reinstatement of your job and/or unemployment benefit while looking for another job.

Federal legislation in the form of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and equivalent state anti-discrimination laws are the basis of wrongful termination of employment claims.

What is Forced Resignation?

Forced resignation is not the same thing as actual termination by an employer. It describes a situation in which an intolerable working environment causes you to resign from the job even though this was not your intention.

In the case of constructive discharge because of an employee’s disability, it may be because the employer refused to make it possible to work effectively because of your disability despite it being a condition of anti-discrimination legislation that an employer attempts to accommodate an employee who has a disability.

Can You Be Forced To Resign Due To a Disability?

No, you cannot be forced to resign because of a disability. This is because under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) you are protected from termination due to your disability. If you have been forced to resign due to disability discrimination, such as lack of accommodation provided by your employer to help you do your job well, then this may be considered wrongful termination.

This is called a constructive discharge, but before you resign because your work environment is intolerable you will need to make a complaint with your employer or to your HR describing your intolerable work conditions.

When you file a complaint with the EEOC or state agency, you will need to provide evidence that shows that your employer has failed to accommodate your disability so you were forced to resign.

To win a constructive discharge claim, the court must be satisfied that any other worker would have found the conditions you were experiencing intolerable if their disability was similar to yours.

Constructive Discharge Claim

Before you resign because of an intolerable working environment, you will need to have made a complaint to your employer or to your HR describing the conditions that you feel are intolerable. Evidence that a refusal to deal with the complaint or make conditions more tolerable will be needed if you do decide to make a constructive discharge claim after you resign.

In your letter of resignation, you should specifically state that the reason for resigning is because of discrimination against you due to your disability and that this is a breach of your own employment contract or existing anti-discrimination legislation.

To win a claim of constructive discharge the court will need to be satisfied that any “normal worker” would have found the conditions you experienced intolerable if they had a similar disability to you. The following types of evidence will help to support your claim:

  • correspondence between you and your supervisors / managers and/or HR related to your complaint of intolerable working conditions;
  • your employment contract;
  • job description;
  • offer letter;
  • witness statements from work colleagues;
  • letter of resignation.

You will need to show that the conditions you describe were not a one-off occurrence but ongoing or continuous over a period of time up to the point you were forced to resign.

Note that statutes of limitation limit how long you have available to file a claim of constructive discharge against your employer.

Next Steps to Take

Constructive discharge claims are not as easy as other discrimination in the workplace or employment termination claims. You may need help compiling your evidence and filing your claim.

An employment lawyer could help you win a claim of this type. Complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page to get in touch with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to the website.

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