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Simply put constructive dismissal is the
changing of an employee’s job or working conditions with the aim of forcing
their resignation. It is resignation because of the employer creating a hostile
work environment. Since the resignation was not truly voluntary, it is in fact,
a termination. An example of constructive dismissal might be a situation where
an employer forces a senior officer to take instructions from his juniors
(where the senior officer is clearly more experienced and competent) or any
such other related actions in an attempt to frustrate the employee to the point
of resignation.

Employers might wish to know that the
concept of constructive dismissal, though not often heard of in Nigerian labour
and employment issues is no longer alien to this clime. This is especially as
the third alteration to the 1999 constitution empowers the National Industrial
Court of Nigeria (“NICN”) to apply international best practices in labour in
arriving at its decision. Also, noteworthy in this regard is the provision of
section 19(d) of the NICN Act (2006) which provides that:
“The court may in all other cases and where
appropriate make any other including; an award of compensation or damages in
any circumstance contemplated by this Act or any other Act of the National
Assembly dealing with any matter that the court has jurisdiction to hear”.
In Miss Ebere Ukoji v. Standard
Alliance Life Assurance Co. Ltd 
[2014] 47 NLLR (Pt. 154) 531 NIC
,
the court held that to attempt to have the employee resign, rather than
outright firing the employee means that the employer is trying to create a
constructive discharge.[ii]
Generally, an employee bringing a claim of
constructive dismissal must (1) show that his employer created a hostile work
environment in a bid to get him to resign; and (2) that the hostile work
environment led to his resignation.
[ii] The Changing Face of Nigerian Labour Law
Jurisprudence and What Employers Need to Know. By Hon. Justice Benedict Bakwaph
KANYIP, PhD
Regulatory Compliance & Commercial law
advisor

Ed’s note – This article was first published here