ATTN FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: Attorney Jay Stafford Discusses Whether Losing Your Security Clearance Means Losing Your Government Job in FEDweek
Skip to Content
Employment Law Back

Resignation vs. Termination: The Difference is Very Important

| April 22, 2022

Has your work environment become such that you hate the idea of going to work each day? Or have you reached a point in your career where you realize that your time with the company is coming to a close very soon? If either of those scenarios sounds like you, resigning may be at the top of your mind.  Our Maryland employment lawyer knows that there are times when submitting your resignation can be beneficial. For example, when you move on to a new position elsewhere, you can let that employer know that you voluntarily left the last company (as opposed to being fired).

Another advantage of resigning is that, depending on the size of the company, employees who decide to resign may be eligible to return to the company later Individuals who have been fired typically do not enjoy that option. To be clear: The differences between being fired and resigning are considerable and deciding whether to resign or get terminated ultimately involves a bit of strategy that relies on the facts of your individual situation. That said, before resigning, speak to a Maryland employment lawyer first.

Why it Matters if You Resign or Get Terminated

Consider this: Your employer is making your work life practically unbearable and probably wants to fire you, but would rather have you quit.  There are plenty of reasons why the company might hold off from firing you, especially if there’s some question or concern that your termination could be illegal. In this case, you might be better off choosing to tough it out and stay instead of resigning. Why? Because if you leave voluntarily, you will not be able to claim wrongful termination later.

If your boss wants you to leave but isn’t willing to take the steps to formally discharge you, you will continue to strengthen your bargaining power by remaining on the roster and refusing to quit. For example, you can use your boss’ desire for you to leave as leverage for getting a substantial separation package in exchange for your resignation. Simply put, try to stay at the job as long as you can to improve your bargaining power.

Another reason our Maryland employment lawyer has for holding off on resigning is that if you are fired, your employer will likely have a procedure for dealing with internal grievances and you can appeal your termination. If you choose to resign, you will lose your right to appeal, and the odds of you getting your job back (assuming you want it back) would be greatly reduced.

If You Choose to Stay, a Maryland Employment Lawyer Suggests Taking Action While There

If your situation at work is intolerable due to workplace discrimination, you should still attempt to stay as long as you can (assuming it’s safe to do so) and contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the relevant state agency that examines discrimination claims. Depending on your specific situation, there may be several federal and state laws that will apply in your case.

It is important to note that you are protected from retaliation if you choose to reach out to an EEOC investigator and file a complaint. That means that any plan your employer has to terminate you may be put on hold at least while the investigation is ongoing.  

Our Maryland Employment Lawyer Wants You to Know Your Rights

Keep in mind that if you are able to prove that your employer subjected you to discrimination, you would likely be entitled to back pay. But if you choose to resign because of the discrimination, you would not be entitled to such pay — unless your resignation is deemed to be a “constructive discharge.” To show that you were constructively discharged, you must demonstrate that your employer made the work environment so intolerable that you had no other option (even after attempting to use less drastic means) except to leave to remedy the situation. Constructive discharges are often quite challenging to prove (except where the harassment was extremely egregious). Therefore, resigning may seriously affect your chance to recover for the employer’s discriminatory behavior.

Let a Skilled Maryland Employment Lawyer Like J.W. Stafford Help

Resigning often calls for making strategic moves and will depend on the facts of your specific scenario, as well as your needs after leaving the job. That said, our Maryland employment lawyer encourages you to read all relevant company documentation and speak to an attorney before deciding to resign. Contact the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, LLC today to discuss the best option for you under the law. Call us at 410-514-6099.