Discharge Law and Legal Definition

Discharge generally refers to the act or an instance of removing an obligation, burden, or responsibility. It may mean the fulfillment of the terms of something, such as a debt or promise or a performance, as of an office or duty. In relation to employees and persons in appointed and other positions, it refers to dismissal or release from employment, service, care, or confinement. It is also an official document certifying such release, especially from military service.

Discharge, in labor law, refers to the dismissal of an employee, usually for breaking the rules or policies of management, incompetence, or some other reason. Collective bargaining agreements usually protect employees from arbitrary or discriminatory discharge. Legal strikers are protected from discharge, although they may be replaced during a strike and regain employment rights only if vacancies open within a certain period of time.

Discharge is used in other legal contexts, such as the discharge of a lien or debt, as in the discharge of a debtor in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy discharge releases the debtor from liability for debts. The following is a portion of a federal law governing fraud in bankruptcy discharge:

(d) On request of a party in interest before one year after a discharge under this section is granted, and after notice and a hearing, the court may revoke such discharge only if -

  1. such discharge was obtained by the debtor through fraud; and
  2. the requesting party did not know of such fraud until after such discharge was granted.

(e) After the debtor is granted a discharge, the court shall terminate the services of any trustee serving in the case.