Can I consider Constructive Discharge when terminated wrongly in an At Will state?

In 9/04 I was terminated From my employer of 6 years after an 8-week Performance Review. The reason given was my failure to perform or improve in three (3) specific duty areas. None were true (proveable). No details or any evidence of my failures was ever presented. No coworkers are aware of my failing in my duties. The EEOC investigated on my behalf, on possible discrimination, but decided not to pursue with a suit. I know Arizona is a difficult state in which to prove Wrongful Termination. I have spoken with four lawyers here about it, and they won't take my money (no money!). Can you advise me or assist me in pursuing a violation of Article 23-1501 and the Constructive discharge clause. Can you help or refer me to a firm willing to go up against not only a respected institution in Phoenix, but the "At Will" laws of the state. If my employer can do what was done to me, the law unfairly protects the employer and hurts and defames good employees. I now can't get past the "He was terminated, and is not considerable for rehire" comment given to prospective employers.


1 answer  |  asked Mar 11, 2005 01:17 AM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
A discharge is a discharge

You seem to be laboring under the illusion that the constructive discharge statute gives you some recourse. First of all, you were actually discharged. The constructive discharge statute applies in situations in which a person is not actually discharged but is forced to quit because of intolerable working conditions. Since you were actually discharged, the statute doesn't apply.
The lawyers you spoke to undoubtedly told you that Arizona (like most states) considers employment in the private sector to be terminable at will unless you have a contract that states otherwise. This means that your employer doesn't need a reason to fire you, just as you don't need a reason to quit. So if their reason doesn't hold water, it doesn't matter.
Unlike those other lawyers, I will be happy to take your money. Unfortunately, it won't change the advice I give you, nor will it give you a case when you don't have one. Unless you have some way to prove that the employer's true reason for firing you was something that would be considered wrongful (like unlawful discrimination, whistleblowing or other reason involving a violation of public policy), you don't have a case of wrongful discharge. Unfair discharge is not the same as wrongful discharge, and there is no legal remedy for mere unfair discharge.
You should also keep in mind that courts are very reluctant to second-guess an employer on an issue like the quality of your performance. In most cases there is no way to prove that the employer's evaluation of poor performance is provably false, because it is not a factual issue but a qualitative opinion. Your opinion and the opinions of your coworkers do not negate or disprove that of your boss. So even if your employer needed a reason to fire you, the court would probably consider the performance evaluation legitimate unless you could show that it was based upon provably false facts that the employer knew were false.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Mar 11, 2005 2:33 PM [EST]

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