Relying on a resignation? Make sure it is unequivocal (Legal view)

Even if an employee says ‘I quit,’ the surrounding circumstances must be taken into account before accepting a resignation
By Claire Ellett
|Western Report|Last Updated: 02/22/2010

The courts have made it very clear: An employee’s resignation must be unequivocal, taking into account all of the circumstances in which it was delivered. Otherwise the termination will amount to wrongful dismissal, which will attract severance in lieu of notice.

In Moreno v. Comfact Corp., the Ontario Superior Court of Justice affirmed recent case law in British Columbia and held that if an employer wishes to rely on an employee’s resignation, it must be clear and without doubt.

In Moreno, the court was faced with a critical question: Was he fired or did he quit? Even though Juan Moreno had provided his employer with a resignation letter, the parties decided to work out their issues and Moreno withdrew his resignation. Although the parties agreed they would continue on as though nothing had occurred, the employer still had the resignation letter on file and it attempted to use this at a later date to allege he had resigned. Based on the evidence, Moreno did not quit but rather he was fired, found the court.