Employees Must Give Reasonable Notice of Resignation

Although there is no legislated requirement for an employee in Ontario to reasonable notice of the termination of employment to one’s employer, it is a well-established principle of common law. The recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court in Gagnon & Associates Inc et al v Jesso et al, 2016 ONSC 209, serves as a reminder of that principle.

Barry Jesso was hired by Gagnon & Associates in 1996 to work in the shipping and receiving department. He was promoted to a sales position and by 2006, Mr. Jesso was earning $180,000 and, along with his co-worker Patrice Comeau, he was responsible for 60% of the company’s sales. Mr. Jesso was unhappy and believed he was underpaid. He and Mr. Comeau approached a competitor, HTS Engineering Ltd., who offered employment to both of them, which they accepted.

On July 14, 2006 both Mr. Jesso and Mr. Comeau gave notice of their resignation. Mr. Jesso’s resignation was effective that same day and he never worked for the company again.

Gagnon argued that Mr. Jesso’s failure to give adequate notice of departure prevented the company from implementing a transition plan, resulting in a significant loss of sales. The company argued Mr. Jesso owed the company a duty of loyalty and good faith that was betrayed by Mr. Jesso’s actions.

Mr. Jesso argued that because he was not in a managerial or fiduciary role, he was not required to provide additional notice of his departure.

The court agreed with Gagnon and ruled that Mr. Jesso should have given 2 months’ notice. The court held that the notice period required will be a function of that employee’s position with the employer and the time it would reasonably take the employer to replace the employee or otherwise take steps to adjust to the loss.

Mr. Jesso was ordered by the court to pay $35,164 to Gagnon, representing the loss of sales the company suffered for two months after his resignation.

If you have questions about an employment law related matter, contact employment lawyer Peter McSherry online or at 519-821-5465.

To read the full decision, click here.