Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) July 25, 2016 - In what many consider an important decision, the Supreme Court has now made it easier for federal workers to file discrimination lawsuits if they quit their jobs due to intolerable work conditions.
In the legal niche of employment law, constructive discharge, also called constructive dismissal or constructive termination, happens when an employee resigns from a position due to a hostile workplace environment created by the employer.
“The resignation is not voluntary and therefore it is, in effect, a termination,” explained respected Chicago employment lawyer, Timothy Coffey. The U.S. Supreme Court just recently ruled in a 7-1 decision that employees who do bring such claims have 45 days from the time they resign to launch a lawsuit. The Justice Department suggested time should begin running when the alleged workplace harassment/abuse occurs.
Consider the case of Marvin Green (Green v. Brennan), an African American, who alleged he was forced to quit his job due to racial discrimination. Green, then a postmaster from Englewood, Colorado, alleged his application was turned down for a similar post in Boulder, Colorado. He asked the post office to look into whether racial discrimination might have affected that decision.
Shortly after filing a discrimination complaint, Green’s relationship with his supervisors went sour and he alleged they suspended him without pay in 2009, claiming that he intentionally delayed the mail. Feeling that he had nowhere to go, Green signed an agreement in 2009 stating he would leave his work position provided the postal service did not file criminal charges. He waited 60 days to tender his resignation and did not file a constructive termination lawsuit until March 2010.
This ruling is important due to the fact that it means workers now have more time to take legal action regarding discriminatory actions that happened months or years before they file. And, according to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the ruling is practical as some workers may delay handing in their resignations for various reasons, including waiting until they can afford to leave.
“Federal workers will find this ruling important, as they are not allowed to file an employment discrimination lawsuit until they first file an administrative claim. The administrative claim must be filed within 45 days of the date of the alleged discriminatory matter,” said Coffey.
For those in a similar situation to Mr. Green, it is important to consult with competent legal counsel to find out what legal options are available.
THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
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Chicago, IL 60654