Did you know that an employee is required to provide “reasonable” notice of resignation (unless you agree to a different notice period in an employment contract)? If you fail to do so, your former employer can sue you and a judge can order you to pay the employer damages. A recent Ontario Superior Court case examines the question of what reasonable notice of resignation is.
Mr. Jesso was a senior salesman at Gagnon & Associates Inc. The employment relationship was not “one of harmony.” Mr. Jesso believed he was underpaid, while Gagnon felt they were paying him too much. Mr. Jesso became so dissatisfied he began making plans to work at HTS, a competitor of Gagnon’s.
One Friday afternoon, Mr. Jesso and another employee provided their letters of resignation, effective immediately. Mr. Jesso offered to work another two weeks, provided that Gagnon paid outstanding fees Mr. Jesso believed he was entitled to. Gagnon did not accept Mr. Jesso’s offer to work a further two weeks.
Gagnon sued Mr. Jesso for breach of his duty of good faith, misusing confidential information, and failing to give adequate notice of resignation. Mr. Jesso counterclaimed for the outstanding fees he believed he was owed, a share of the business and for constructive dismissal. Ultimately, Mr. Jesso was successful on his claim for outstanding fees, and Gagnon was successful in arguing Mr. Jesso failed to give sufficient notice of resignation.
What is sufficient notice of resignation?
In determining the amount of notice Mr. Jesso should have given, the court considered the nature of his position and the time it would reasonably take Gagnon to replace him. Although Mr. Jesso had no managerial responsibilities, he was a senior employee with 10 years’ service and was responsible for a significant portion of Gagnon’s sales. The court accepted that Mr. Jesso’s departure resulted in Gagnon’s sales not increasing by a predicted 20% margin. Another relevant factor was that Mr. Jeso knew the other employee intended to resign the same day, which would also negatively impact Gagnon.
The court found that Mr. Jesso should have given two months’ resignation and ordered him to pay Gagnon the loss of sales that were properly attributed to Mr. Jesso that Gagnon suffered during those two months.
Lessons to be learned
The amount of notice employees are required to provide depends on multiple factors, including the nature of the position and their length of service. If you are considering to leave your employment, you should consult a lawyer to learn what your obligations to your employer are both during and after your resignation. This is especially the case if you are considering working for a competitor.
If you have any questions about your legal rights and obligations in the workplace, one of our lawyers would be happy to meet with you. Please call 647-204-8107 or email [email protected].
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