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High Court sets clear constructive discharge rule

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on May 23 that the clock starts ticking on constructive discharge cases on the day the employee announces plans to resign, not the day an employer’s allegedly intolerable act occurred.

In Green v. Brennan (U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14–613, 2016) the court ruled 7-1 that a former postal worker had not missed the deadline for filing an EEOC race discrimination complaint, and that therefore his lawsuit could continue.

The Post Office had argued that the employee had waited more than 45 days to complain, as the law requires.

The employee countered that he had filed 41 days after telling the Post Office that he was quitting because of discrimination at work.

The Supreme Court sided with the employee.

Constructive discharge occurs when an employee is so troubled or harmed by what he considers intolerable working conditions that he feels he has no choice but to resign.

The Supreme Court ruled that the constructive discharge was itself part of the “matter alleged to be discriminatory.”

This decision, while decidedly employee-friendly, was not a surprise. The Post Office even declined to defend itself in Green v. Brennan.

The case is notable, however, in that the Supreme Court gave clear guidance on when the clock starts ticking in constructive discharge cases.

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