Worker awarded damages after company accelerates resignation

Saskatchewan man gave four weeks’ notice but employer changed it to two weeks

A Saskatchewan worker was awarded damages after he handed in his resignation and his employment was terminated before the date specified in the resignation letter.

Paul Compton, a producer at Partners in Motions Pictures Inc., handed in his resignation on Sept. 8, 2003. He was “exasperated” with the company’s refusal to permit him to take holidays when he felt he needed to rather than when the production schedule would permit.

The resignation letter stated that his last day would be Oct. 3, 2003. But the company decided it didn’t want him to stay until Oct. 3 and asked him to change his resignation letter to reflect Sept. 19.

Compton said he was asked on Sept. 9 to change the effective date of the letter to Sept. 19. He received an e-mail from his boss the next day requesting “a new resignation letter with the date we talked about so that I can let the staff know of your departure.”

Compton refused to revise his letter, and told his employer he needed the money and there was no shortage of work for him to do between Sept. 19 and Oct. 3. Compton said at no time was he told that he would be paid until Oct. 3.

At trial the employer said Compton had verbally agreed to the change in date and that Compton was told he would be paid until Oct. 3.

The uncontradicted evidence is that a few days before Sept. 19, the company’s chief financial officer e-mailed Compton and said his final cheque would be held up if certain tasks were not completed by Sept. 19.

Compton worked until Sept. 19 and was paid until that time. One week later, on Sept. 26, a cheque was presented to him by counsel representing payment of salary from Sept. 19 to Oct. 3.

Compton rejected that payment and claimed wrongful dismissal.

The court’s view

Justice Gerald Kraus of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench was critical of the way the employer handled Compton’s resignation.

In his view, the actions of the company in response to Compton’s resignation showed it did not accept the notice.

“Rather, (the employer) sought to terminate his employment at an earlier date, without agreement, which change constituted constructive dismissal from his employment,” said Justice Kraus.


Compton started working for Partners in Motion Picture on May 28, 2001, and was promoted to producer on Aug. 16, 2002, the position he held until Sept. 19, 2003.

He was 31 years old at the time of dismissal and, in the court’s words, was “competent and employable.” In fact, Compton found a job with another production company within two months.

The court awarded Compton damages of $6,250, representing two-and-a-half months’ salary.

Compton was also seeking additional damages in the form of Wallace damages for the way the termination was handled. But the court said the evidence did not support such a claim. (For more information on Wallace damages see The Wallace factor.

For more information see:

Compton v. Partners in Motion Pictures Inc., 2005 CarswellSask 457, 2005 SKQB 310 (Sask. Q.B.)

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