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Unlawful tactics for ending employment

Similarly to many other states, California is an at-will state for the purposes of employment. This means your employer can fire you or you can quit at any time, for any reason.

However, the law places restrictions on employers' ability to fire at will by putting in place protections against discrimination and intolerable working conditions. Employment contracts may also require employees and employers to give notice.

Forcing an employee to quit

An employer who wants an employee gone for discriminatory reasons will rarely make an employment attorney's job easy by stating: "I am firing you because I do not want a disabled person working here." Frequently, such employers will instead try to get you to quit by making your job unpleasant. If you leave as a result, the employer may be liable for constructive discharge.

Unreasonably harsh working conditions

Constructive discharge can happen when employers create such intolerable working conditions that it forces the employee to quit. California has a fairly strict threshold for what type of conduct by the employer rises to the level of creating intolerable working conditions.

Many people have difficult jobs and deal with unpleasant bosses or coworkers, but this alone is not enough. The working conditions must be unusually bad and occur either with the employer's knowledge or with demonstrated intent to make the employee quit. Some examples of behavior that might qualify include screaming at employees, purposely humiliating them or embarking on a campaign of harassment.

Unique factors

In individual cases, much will depend on the type of environment normal for a particular position in a particular industry. You will also need to show that the negative conduct continued up until the time you quit.

Establishing constructive discharge may allow you to sue based on wrongful termination. Unlike quitting, being fired may also entitle you to unemployment benefits.

If you suspect your employer is harassing you in order to get you to quit, begin documenting this behavior. Speaking with an experienced attorney can help you figure out what is going on and how you should proceed to protect your rights.

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