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March 6, 2017

My boss says I quit, but I didn’t!

We might think that it would be obvious when someone quits, but disputes about resignations are actually quite common. Typically what we see is a boss who says that an employee quit and an employee who denies it. A lot rides on who’s right – an employee who quits may not receive termination pay.

When an employee seeks our advice on this issue, we ask for details about what was said and done. We’re looking to see whether it was reasonable for the employer to have concluded that the employee quit. As a result, we need to know if you gave your boss a resignation letter or simply stormed off after a disagreement.

We also need to know what you did following the alleged resignation. Did you miss work for a week or immediately tell your boss that it was a mistake? The more that it looks like an employee’s comments were a response to a tense situation rather than a well-thought out plan, the more sympathetic courts will be.

For instance, in the recent decision, Johal v Simmons da Silva LLP, the Court concluded that the employee didn’t quit even though she handed in her security pass, collected her personal belongings and went home early. In siding with the employee, the court considered, amongst other things, the employee’s age (62), length of service (27 years), and seniority. These factors all suggested that she wouldn’t have up and quit. In addition, the employee never actually said that she was quitting and only left after receiving unexpected news of significant restructuring.

In coming to its conclusion, the Court cautioned employers against jumping at a possible resignation to avoid liability. An employer is required to do more than “let sleeping dogs lie” and must actually make inquiries about “the Plaintiff’s true and unequivocal intention”.

If your boss says you resigned and you’d like an assessment of your case, contact us. Millard & Company has extensive experience representing employees in all types of employment disputes.

By Mika Imai; photo by rocketace with modifications, used under creative commons commercial license.


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