Silence is the virtue of fools.
~ Francis Bacon
When Parmjit Gill left the Concord, Ontario offices of A&D Precision Ltd. after a confrontational meeting with his boss, he did not think it was because he had just resigned, but rather, he assumed he had been fired. The court decided otherwise.
Gill often complained about his job as a machinist, disagreeing with criticism about his work and griping about his pay. Weeks before his departure, Gill even mentioned to a manager that he might not be around much longer, although he was not always taken seriously because of his past complaints.
When a problem with Gill’s work on a critical project arose, he was quickly confronted by the president, Tony Derbedrosian, and questioned about how he was doing his job. When Gill suggested to Derbedrosian that he did not like his work, the latter responded by stating “No, I do not like it when there are mistakes.” Believing he had just been fired, Gill left his machine and went home, never to return.
At a recent trial, Gill attempted to prove that he had indeed been fired, in which case he would be entitled to severance. However, in deciding the case in A&D’s favour, the judge noted that a supervisor who overheard Gill’s confrontation encouraged him to reconsider leaving but Gill refused. Later, when Gill called the company to arrange to pick up his tools, he did not express any interest in returning to job because, according to the judge, “he had no interest in returning.”
Canadian courts consistently reject assertions that employees have resigned unless it is clear that this was their true intention. Here, having left the workplace after an argument, Gill had an obligation to return to work or to contact the company to indicate his desire to return. Otherwise, it was clear he had no intention of returning. To avoid a similar outcome, here are some simple guidelines:
- Immediately protest a characterization that there has been a resignation, if it wasn’t the intended result.
- If the situation is unclear, request that your options be outlined in writing and seek specialized advice before taking any action.
- Resist leaving the workplace, as difficult as that may be, unless there is no other reasonable option.
Daniel A. Lublin is an employment lawyer with Whitten & Lublin LLP. Dan@toronto-employmentlawyer.com.