What constitutes “constructive discharge”?

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What constitutes “constructive discharge”?

My DSM sent me to cover another store, there were bullets in the parking lot, bullet proof glass for the bank tellers, and persons harassing a customer in the store. I told the DSM I was not going there anymore due to safety issues. She then told me she already made arrangements to transfer me there and has already filled my current position (the transfer is not a promotion). She told me it was happening and to figure out how important my job is to me and let her know. I called her the next day and told her I was not going there, her exact response was, ” so then when is your last day?”

Asked on May 12, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Constructive discharge is typically when it is functionally impossible for someone to do the job as they'd been hired for. The classic examples are (1) being transferred from day shift (what the employee was hired for) to night shift; or (2) being relocated past a reasonable commuting distance (e.g. when hired, 20 minute commute; transferred to 2-hour-plus commute).

However, having a transfer be undesirable--as you point out, to a less-desirable neighborhood--will not typically count as constructive discharge; particularly not if the employer takes the normal and reasonable precautions (e.g. there is bulletproof glass for the tellers). In that situation, since clearly people *can* safely work there--the location is currently staffed, is it not?--it is not impossible to work there. Rather, it is your choice to not work at that location, which makes your decision to not accept the transfer voluntary resignation, not constructive discharge. That's not to say it might not be the right decision for you, just that the law would not consider it constructive discharge.


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