Events that occurred at work may provide cause for legal action to recover back wages or other benefits you would have received if not for a wrongful termination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notes that employers violate the law if they punish employees for engaging in protected activities.
After complaining about a coworker’s misconduct, for example, you have a right to avoid retaliation. If you suddenly find your job duties changing, your complaint may have motivated your employer to reduce your hours or salary level. Adverse action of this nature could reflect a first step towards termination.
A hostile work environment may foreshadow a departure
As noted by the U.S. Department of Labor, allowing a hostile work environment to continue may signal an employer’s intent to see you go. A pay reduction or hostile workplace causes a reasonable individual to seek employment elsewhere, which may reflect an employer’s hoped-for result. If you find that your job duties changed or your coworkers have become hostile, your manager may have allowed these circumstances to develop.
Employers may choose constructive discharge to avoid wrongful termination claims
In an action referred to as a “constructive discharge,” a manager may create working conditions so severe that an employee quits. As described by The Ascent, the employer may hope that harsh treatment could encourage you to resign. As the U.S. DOL notes, however, this type of adverse action may qualify as a wrongful termination if you do choose to quit rather than endure a hostile workplace environment.
The end result of a constructive discharge does not differ much from getting fired; you could lose a significant amount of income and suffer emotional distress. Whether wrongfully fired or constructively discharged, filing a lawsuit against the employer may help you obtain relief.