In employment law, when is a resignation a resignation? A recent decision from Newfoundland and Labrador examined the issue.
After a particularly stressful meeting in which an employee was confronted with an error he made, voices were raised and colourful language was used, the employee handed in his keys and cell phone and said “I’m done”.
Do such actions constitute a resignation? In the Newfoundland and Labrador case, it did not.
The judge stressed that a resignation must be clear and unequivocal in order to be upheld as valid and must demonstrate an intention to resign. The judge stated that the full context of the purported resignation is relevant to the determination and that a resignation during a spontaneous outburst in highly charged emotional circumstances can undermine its voluntariness.
With those legal principles in mind, the judge held that the resignation was not voluntary and not unequivocal and that the employer had a duty of good faith to give the employee time to cool off and reconsider. Having not done so, the employer was found to have constructively dismissed the employee.
This case serves as a reminder for how employers should respond when an employee spontaneously or emotionally resigns. If you need advice on how to manage an employee resignation or any other employment related issue, please contact us.