Work prospect elsewhere not ‘just cause’ to leave job

Canada (Attorney General) v. Sacrey, 2003 CarswellNat 3162 (F.C.A.)

Vaden Sacrey left his job in Halifax on the advice of a friend who said he would be able to find work with a company in Thomson, Man. The firm wasn’t hiring, however, and Sacrey’s application for unemployment benefits was denied because the Employment Insurance Act states a claimant will be denied benefits if he voluntarily leaves his employment without just cause. Sacrey appealed and the board of referees ruled in his favour, stating he made a reasonable choice with the information he had received from the friend and had sufficient assurance of employment to meet the test for just cause. The federal government appealed. Justice Décary of the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the decision and denied Sacrey benefits.

The key to the standard of just cause in this case, he said, is the “reasonable assurance of another employment in the immediate future.” The friend whose information Sacrey had relied on was not connected to the company and her only source of information was casual conversations with her uncle, a lawyer in Thomson. As such, decided the judge, “absent any offer by the prospective employer, any contact between that employer and the respondent, and any idea as to what the work or the enumeration would be, there is no ‘assurance’ and there is no employment… (Sacrey) should be disqualified from receiving benefits because he voluntarily left his employment without just cause.”

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