Although an employee can claim constructive termination, it is always beneficial for an employer to accept, as soon as possible and in writing, an employee’s resignation. By doing so, the employer creates a clear record that an employee was not fired and limits the potential claims which an employee can assert against the employer.

This point was recently illustrated in Featherstone v. Southern California Permanente Medical Group. In that case, the ultimate issue was whether a resignation is an “adverse action” under California’s anti-discrimination law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act. In that case, Ms. Featherstone tendered her resignation on December 23, 2013, and it was immediately accepted. The court recognized that general contract rules apply to resignations and that “a resignation is an offer which may be withdrawn prior to its acceptance.” In that circumstance, however, though Ms. Featherstone subsequently tried to rescind her resignation, the court held that she was no longer able to rescind the resignation (which was an offer) because it had already been accepted.

Of equal importance, the court held that the refusal of the company to allow Ms. Featherstone to rescind her resignation was not an “adverse employment action” and, therefore, she had no claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act for discrimination and/or retaliation because both such claims require an adverse employment action.

Take Aways:

  • An employer should accept an employee’s resignation as soon as possible and in writing;
  • Not every perceived wrong by an employee constitutes an adverse employment action which would be actionable under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.