Fact or Fiction: The statute of limitations on a constructive-discharge claim starts when the employee quits

Fact or Fiction?That’s right folks. It’s time for another edition of “Fact or Fiction” a/k/a “Quick Answers to Quick Questions” a/k/a QATQQ f/k/a “I don’t feel like writing a long blog post.”

There are times when an employee claims that his working conditions have become so intolerable — a really, really bad hostile work environment, that he is forced to resign. That’s a claim of constructive discharge. If that employee later wishes to bring a claim against his former employer, he must do so within a certain period of time.

Does the statute of limitations on a constructive-discharge claim begin to run from the date of the last discriminatory act? Or the date of the resignation?

Answer: The date of the resignation.

Why, just yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved this question in Green v Brennan (opinion here). The rationale here is that the claim of constructive discharge “requires proof of a causal link between the allegedly intolerable conditions and the resignation.”

However, the Supreme Court did note that the “limitations period begins running on any separate underlying claim of discrimination when that claim accrues, regardless of whether the plaintiff eventually claims constructive discharge.” Therefore, if an employee claims that being passed over for a promotion was discriminatory, the statute of limitations runs from the date he is passed over — even if the employee quits months later and alleges constructive discharge.