Constructive Discharge Claim Dismissed, in Light of Dismissal of Hostile Work Environment Claim

In Tassy v. Peter Buttigieg, 2023 WL 144112 (E.D.N.Y. January 10, 2023), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s “constructive discharge” claim. In sum, since a constructive charge claim is a more “aggravated” form of a hostile work environment, the dismissal of the latter warranted the dismissal of the former.

From the decision:

Plaintiff also brings a free-standing constructive discharge claim. Such claims are difficult to establish, and are routinely rejected by the courts.

Constructive discharge of an employee occurs when an employer, rather than directly discharging an individual, intentionally creates an intolerable work atmosphere that forces an employee to quit involuntarily. For purposes of Title VII, a claim of constructive discharge has two basic elements: (i) a plaintiff must prove first that he was discriminated against by his employer to the point where a reasonable person in his position would have felt compelled to resign, and (ii) a plaintiff must also show that he actually resigned.

As for the first element, a plaintiff must show that a reasonable person would have found the working conditions “intolerable.” A plaintiff cannot satisfy this element by showing that the working conditions were merely difficult or unpleasant. A plaintiff must also show that these intolerable working conditions arose under circumstances that support an inference of discriminatory intent. To do so, a plaintiff must show either specific intent or, at the very least, that the employer’s actions were deliberate and not merely negligent or ineffective. Importantly, an employee who fails to explore alternative avenues offered by his employer before concluding that resignation is the only option cannot make out a claim of constructive discharge.

This Court previously rejected plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims, and this holding was affirmed by the Second Circuit. Therefore, a fortiori, the conditions were not so intolerable that plaintiff was forced to quit involuntarily. Moreover, given that plaintiff chose to resign rather than to challenge the NOPR [Notice of Proposed Removal], the Court finds that he did not avail himself of all alternative avenues that were available.

[Cleaned up.]

Accordingly, this claim was subject to dismissal.

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