Experienced employment lawyer offers advice on preparing for your deposition in a constructive discharge case

As any experienced employment lawyer will tell you, proving a constructive discharge can be a challenging proposition. To establish a claim for “constructive discharge,” you must prove that you quit your job because the environment or working conditions were so offensive that a reasonable person in that situation would have felt compelled to quit. (In a minority of jurisdictions, you must also establish that your employer “intended” for you to quit.) For example, a constructive discharge claim may be based on a theory of coercion. That is, your resignation may be deemed involuntary if the totality of the circumstances suggests you were pressured by your employer to such an extent that you were deprived of free choice and resigned against your will.

At your deposition, the employment attorney for your former employer will explore the facts surrounding your alleged constructive discharge, to determine if the working conditions were objectively (to a reasonable person) and subjectively (to you) offensive. An experienced employment attorney can help you prepare for questions similar to the following:

  • What is your understanding of the term “constructive discharge”?
  • Why do you believe that you were constructively discharged?
  • What conditions existing in the workplace made you decide to resign?
  • Please identify any person whom you believe intentionally created conditions in the workplace that led to your decision to resign?
  • Were there specific acts that occurred that led you to resign?
  • What were those acts?
  • Who was involved in committing those acts?
  • When did those acts occur?
  • Who was present when they occurred?
  • When did you first think about resigning?
  • Did you discuss your thoughts about resigning with any of your co-workers? friends? family?
  • Before you resigned, did you contact anyone at the company, including the human resources department, to complain about your working conditions? If not, why not?
  • You are aware of the employee handbook provision advising employees that if they have an issue concerning the workplace, that they should contact the human resources department?
  • Why didn’t you contact the human resources department?
  • Did you have any prior negative experiences with the human resources department during your employment?
  • Were you told that if you did not resign you would be fired?
  • So before you resigned, you did not give the company an opportunity to correct the conditions in the workplace that led to your quitting?

You must have an answer to the “you left too soon” question. Explore this topic with your employment lawyer. If you had approached supervisors or the human resources department on other occasions, without getting the workplace issues resolved, then your answer is that the human resources department was non-responsive and always sided with the supervisors, and that going to human resources was a futile gesture. Alternatively, if you knew of other employees who had complained to human resources without success, you can rely on that fact to answer this type of question.