What is Forced Resignation and is it Illegal?

A forced resignation is when there is pressure on you to leave your job. This can have an effect on your future career as well as your self-esteem. In some circumstances, being forced to resign is illegal, and some employment discrimination laws can protect employees if they have been forced to resign.

 

I Have Been Asked To Resign - What Are My Rights?

Most waged employees are employed under at-will employment arrangements. This means that typically an employer can terminate an employee’s employment at any time for almost any reason. The same right applies to the employee who doesn’t need to give a reason to quit.

Employers cannot fire an employee legally, however, simply because they have complained of discrimination or have exposed wrongdoing at their workplace. This is regarded as retaliation. Even if you resign yourself because of the pressure that has been imposed on you by your employer, this is still regarded as retaliation.

You have the right to file a complaint of retaliation with either your state anti-discrimination body, such as a state government Human Rights agency, or the federal equivalent, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC only investigates complaints by employees who were employed in a workplace where 15 or more employees were employed, so if you worked in a smaller workplace, you may find it easier to file a complaint with the relevant state agency.

Both state and federal anti-discrimination agencies have time limits within complaints should be filed. Once a complaint has been received by either agency, an investigation will take place. The agency may be able to resolve the complaint or if a breach of legislation is exposed, the employer may face fines, or stiffer penalties.

When a Forced Resignation Is Illegal    

Discrimination

Being forced to resign could mean the employer has committed a violation of federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination of employees.For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects workers from being treated unfairly like being forced to resign based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion or disability.

If an employer forces an employee to resign based on being a member of any of the protected categories, it could be a violation of federal law and be considered in a similar way to wrongful termination. However, this law only applies where there are 15 or more employees in one workplace. Some states have their own laws, like California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Whistleblowing

The False Claims Act contains an anti-retaliation provision that makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who participate in whistleblowing against their employers. This may include being forced to resign.

Any employee who successfully proves a False Claims Act retaliation case because s/he was forced to resign may be entitled to be reinstated, receive up to twice the amount of their back pay, interest on that back pay, special damages, costs, and attorney’s fees.

As well as the False Claims Act, there are several other federal and state laws which are specific to certain industries. These include provisions to protect whistleblowers from being forced to resign due to whistleblowing.

Family and Medical Leave

In most cases, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for his or her own medical treatment or that of a close family member. Not every employee is covered, but those who are employed by an employer that has 50 or more regular employees who work within 75 miles of each other are covered.

Also, employees must have worked for at least one year for a total of at least 1,250 work hours in the year before they are eligible for coverage for medical or family leave. You cannot be forced to resign for taking family or medical leave if it falls within the timeframe stipulated in the law.

 

Forced Resignation Due to Employer Retaliation

It is not uncommon for an employer to put so much pressure on an employee who has made a valid complaint of discrimination or has exposed wrongdoing by the employer that the employee has resigned. This sort of retaliation is illegal and is in breach of both state and federal anti-discrimination and labor laws.

If you have experienced retaliation by your employer which has caused you to resign, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. There is a process for this and you must follow the process carefully if you are to have a chance of obtaining compensation.

Note that if you quit your job anyway simply because you don’t like your job or you don’t like something that your employer has done which doesn’t necessarily directly involve you, then this cannot be considered resignation because of retaliation.

To have a valid claim, you must be able to prove that your employer has put pressure on you to resign because of something that you have exposed or complained about.

To give an example, let’s say that you have witnessed what you believe to be corrupt practices occurring within your workplace. If you inform the state Labor department or another agency about what you consider illegal practices going on, then this is an example of whistleblowing.

If your employer retaliates against you by firing you, or putting pressure on you to resign, then this could be considered retaliation and is a breach of state and federal law.

What to Do if You are Forced to Resign

Because most employees work at will, it means they can be fired at any time, for any reason, as long as it is not illegal. You have to prove that your employer’s reason for forcing you to resign was illegal.

If you were forced to resign because your manager bullied and insulted you because of your disability, your age or your religion you may have a strong legal claim for discrimination which was the reason why your employer forced you to resign.

Proving You Were Forced to Resign

Depending on the reason you were forced to resign you will need to provide evidence to prove it. One of the most useful forms of evidence is reports written by co-workers on instances at work that showed you were being discriminated against by the behavior of certain employees or your employer and nothing had been done to change the environment. Instead of solving the problem, your employer asked you to resign.

Get Help WithYour Case

Have a professional employment lawyer on your side so you are not fighting your forced resignation case on your own. To get in touch with a lawyer that takes cases in your area, fill out the Free Case Evaluation above.

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