What qualifies as constructive dismissal?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What qualifies as constructive dismissal?

I told my boss I wasn’t happy with the new job
she assigned to me 2 days a week out of the 5
days I spent doing my actual job, as it wasn’t
what I was hired as. She said that she knew I
was unhappy, but she now has me working this
position 4 days a week. She said I can’t show
my unhappiness and must smile because the kids
I work at a charter school can read my face.
Is she trying to get me to quit by not offering
me any other options and can anything be done
about this?

Asked on August 24, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Being unhappy at work or not liking your duties or job is NOT constructive dismissal: if you leave for this reason, it will be a voluntary separation from employment (quitting or resigning) and you will not be eligible for unemployment. 
The law, to be blunt, does not care about your happiness at work or what you want to do. An employer has no obligation to take your preferences or wishes into account.
It is only "constructive termination"--or grounds to quit while still being entitled to unemployment (i.e. to quit while treating it like being terminated)--if the employer did one of the following:
1) Reduced your pay by a significant amount for the same hours of work--typically by a 1/3 or more.
2) Relocated you to a different location that is an unreasonable distance away--adding at least one hour of commute each way, as a rough rule of thumb.
3) Change night shift to day shift or vice versa, when you were hired for a job specifically for one or the other.
That is, they have to in an objective way (not based on satisfaction, happiness, etc.) make the job so much worse that no reasonable person (even one who does not share your preferences or likes) would do the job.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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