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When a resignation may not be voluntary

When we think about when an employee resigns from a job, we generally think that the employee (for whatever reason) no longer wants to be in the company’s employ, and that such a decision is voluntary. However, the reality is that resigning may not always be voluntary. There may be internal pressures that compel an unwitting employee to leave “voluntarily” that are akin to constructive discharge.

The rejection of a Florida police officer’s purported resignation is an example of this. The U.S Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that the officer was essentially “targeted” for participating in constitutionally protected activities that drew the ire of his superiors, and the circumstances surrounding the officer’s letter of resignation called into question whether his resignation was voluntary at all. 

The court reviewed a number of factors suggesting that he did not act under his own free will. He reportedly was told that he had “no real alternatives” to termination, he was also accused of no wrongdoing that would require him to be terminated, and he was not under investigation or subject to criminal prosecution.  Because of this, a reasonable jury could conclude that the officer’s resignation was not a product of his own free will, and that he would have grounds to bring a wrongful termination claim.

If you are presented with a choice of resigning or being terminated, it is prudent to weigh your legal rights and options with an experienced employment law attorney.

The preceding is not legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. 

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