I Was Forced to Resign Because I Was Injured. What Should I Do?

Most waged employees are employed at-will. This means that employers can normally fire the worker whenever they want for any reason. If you are injured and this injury has caused a disability or meant that you must take time off work to get treatment, your employer cannot fire you solely because of your injury.

If the employer makes your working conditions so intolerable that you are forced to resign, then this also may be illegal. Under both federal and state anti-discrimination legislation a forced resignation is regarded as equivalent to being wrongfully fired.

If this has happened to you, then this could be considered an example of constructive discharge and you may be entitled to file a constructive discharge claim against your employer. A successful claim could mean you are able to obtain financial compensation, have your job reinstated under satisfactory working conditions and/or apply for unemployment benefit while searching for alternative employment.

What is Forced Resignation?

When you are forced to resign because your employer has made conditions intolerable at work because of your injury, this is referred to as constructive discharge or forced resignation. If this occurs it may be a breach of discrimination at work legislation such as the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or equivalent state laws.

Constructive Discharge Claim

To be able to file a constructive discharge claim you must be able to provide evidence that the hostile or intolerable conditions which made you resign were due to your injury only and that it was an ongoing situation and not a single one-off experience.

You will need to show that you have made an attempt to bring your complaint about intolerable conditions with your supervisor/manager/ HR or directly with your employer and that there has been no response or the working conditions do not improve. You are advised to keep copies of all correspondence concerning your complaint to support any claim you make after you are forced to resign.

You should also include in your letter of resignation the reason for resigning, i.e. that it was due to the intolerable environment in which you were working and that it was discriminatory based only on your injury. Make it clear that you regard this as a breach of anti-discrimination at work legislation. Keep a copy of your resignation letter.

The court will need to be assured that any average employee with a similar injury would feel forced to resign in the same conditions. Evidence that could help support your claim might include:

  • your original offer of employment;
  • a copy of your employment contract;
  • job description;
  • correspondence between you and your supervisor/manager/hr/employer;
  • witness statements from work colleagues
  • letter of resignation.

Note that statutes of limitation mean that you will need to file your claim within a specified time frame dated from the work conditions that forced you to resign.

Next Steps to Take

Filing a claim of constructive discharge against your employer can be challenging. You may need legal help from an employment lawyer. A lawyer may be able to help determine if you have a viable claim as well as collect evidence, help submit your claim and defend you in court if needed. Fill out a Free Case Evaluation on this page to get in touch with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to the website.  

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