3 Common Questions About Constructive Dismissal

Employment Law | April 18, 2023

If you feel as though you are being pressured to quit your job or your job responsibilities have significantly changed without any notice, you may be in a constructive dismissal situation. Knowing what constructive dismissal is and how to identify it is crucial in determining what you are entitled. That is why the employment lawyers at Linley Welwood have put together a list of 3 common questions about constructive dismissal to give you the information you need to assess your situation and determine if your employer is trying to force you to quit.

Learn the answers to 5 common questions about employment contracts.

3 Common Constructive Dismissal Questions

When discussing constructive dismissal, the following questions are commonly asked:

1. What is Constructive Dismissal?

“Constructive dismissal” is a term that is used to describe situations where an employee feels as though they are being forced to quit their job by their employer. Constructive dismissal is sometimes referred to as disguised dismissal or quitting with cause. This type of dismissal often occurs in situations where the employee is offered the choice of leaving their position or submitting to a unilateral and substantial alteration of a fundamental term of their employment.

2. What are Some Examples of Constructive Dismissal?

When discussing examples of constructive dismissal, it is important to note that the employer’s actions or changes to the role of an employee must be unilateral. This means that it must have been performed without the consent of the employee. Furthermore, the employee must clearly indicate that they do not accept these changes and resign from their job in a short period of time following them. By failing to resign, the employee will have indicated their acceptance of the new conditions of employment. Examples of constructive dismissal circumstances include:

  • Significant Changes in Powers or Duties – In these situations, employees are faced with a sudden change in responsibilities or authority. For example, a yard foreman may have their responsibilities increased to those of a plant superintendent with no notice, change in title, or increase in salary.
  • Threats to Employment – Quitting in response to threats of dismissal or a demotion can be considered grounds for constructive dismissal, though it should be noted that merely encouraging an employee to quit may not qualify as sufficient grounds.
  • Reduction in Salary, Status, or Benefits – If an employee resigns due to a major reduction of salary, or a change in authority, benefits, or the location of employment, this may be grounds for constructive dismissal. For example, if an employee was suddenly demoted without notice or is asked to move to a new city without a relocation provision in their contract, this could be seen as grounds for constructive dismissal.

3. Do I Have a Case for Constructive Dismissal?

Determining if constructive dismissal has occurred is based on an objective view of the employer’s conduct, not the employee’s perception of the situation. In other words, it is the employer’s failure to meet their contractual obligations that distinguishes a constructive dismissal from a standard resignation. The seriousness and amount of apparent deliberation in this failure also factor into this determination. If a case for constructive dismissal is proven, the employee may be eligible for severance pay even though they resigned from their position. To determine if you have a case for constructive dismissal, it is always best to seek legal counsel.

To learn more about constructive dismissal or to speak with one of our employment lawyers, get in touch with the team at Linley Welwood. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our services or your situation.

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