If you have been experiencing intimidation or harassment at work in New York which was so severe that you decided to resign voluntarily, you may have been the victim of constructive dismissal. Constructive dismissal in New York is illegal if your employer deliberately intended to make it difficult for you to stay on at work. An employment law attorney may be able to help you if you decide to take legal action against your employer.
What is Constructive Dismissal?
Constructive dismissal is a form of wrongful termination, even though the employee is not fired but resigns voluntarily because of deliberately hostile working conditions. Although most employees in New York are employed at will, which allows employers to terminate their employment whenever they want, there are still some reasons why termination or constructive dismissal may be illegal.
What Are Examples of Constructive Dismissal?
Examples of constructive dismissal are similar to examples of wrongful termination. These include any of the following:
- when the employee has faced discrimination;
- when the employee has refused to carry out illegal activities at work or has acted as a whistleblower;
- retaliation against the employee because they had applied for workers’ compensation;
- the employee had applied or taken leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act;
- the employee had been absent from work because of military service, jury service or had gone to vote.
What Laws Protect Me from Constructive Dismissal?
Anti-discrimination laws in New York include both the state’s own legislation which prohibits discrimination in the workplace if an employee is one of several protected classes as well as federal legislation in the form of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Workers’ compensation laws in New York prohibit retaliation against an employee because they have applied for workers’ comp. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also prohibits an employee from harassing an employee or terminating their employment because they have legitimately applied for leave on medical or family grounds.
What to Do If you Have Experienced Constructive Dismissal
You do need to have evidence that you brought your concerns to a supervisor, manager or to your employer before resigning because of harassment or intimidation. You need to have evidence that your employer was aware that you were experiencing harassment or intimidation and was doing so to attempt to make you resign.
If you have evidence of deliberate attempts to make you leave your job by your employer and you believe that this was a breach of either a federal or state labor or anti-discrimination law, you should contact the New York State Division of Human Rights, the New York Department of Labor or the Equal Employment opportunities Commission (EEOC) to register your complaint of constructive dismissal.
In most cases, if you have good grounds for a complaint, your case will likely be investigated. You may be given permission to file a lawsuit against your employer if the state or federal agency cannot resolve your complaint.
Next Steps to Take
An employment law attorney may be able to help you with your constructive dismissal case and help you obtain compensation if it can be proven before a court that your employer breached a state or federal employment law. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation to get in touch with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to the website.
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