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Reasonable notice required of both employers and employees – Superior Court of Ontario

resignationIn the recent decision of Gagnon & Associates Inc. the Court reminds us that both employers and employees have the obligation to provide reasonable notice of intention to terminate the employment relationship. [1]

In this case, two long-term, key, but unhappy, employees tendered their resignations to their employer with immediate effect after being offered a job at a competing company. The employees together were responsible for over 60% of the employer’s sales and so their immediate departure had a greatly negative impact on the performance of the company, which was not able to find replacements for some time. The employer filed suit alleging wrongful resignation.

The court found that the two employees did not provide the employer with reasonable notice of termination of their employment, which should have been 2 months. The factors discussed by the Court as relevant to determining the appropriate notice period in the absence of a prior agreement were: the length of one’s employment, the importance of one’s role to the functioning of the company, the ease of finding replacement personnel, as well as other factors (for example the knowledge that another employee is planning to depart at the same time). As such, when an employee with an important function seeks to resign on short notice, the employer need not to accept the resignation, particularly when doing so would have a substantial negative impact on the employer’s business. The case serves as a reminder to employees that they also have obligations to the employer, even at the end of their employment relationship.


[1] Gagnon & Associates Inc. et. al. v Jesso et. al., 2016 ONSC 209 (CanLII)

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De Bousquet PC Barristers and Solicitors

Civil Litigation Lawyers at De Bousquet PC Barristers and Solicitors
De Bousquet law offers experienced counsel and representation in multiple aspects of employment law, labour relations, commercial law and civil litigation. Jean-Alexandre De Bousquet, founder of the firm, interned for the Canadian Centre for International Justice, worked for an Ottawa law firm and pursued a career with the Attorney General of Ontario. In 2014, Jean-Alexandre was named one of Ontario's "leading experts" in human rights law by Legal Action Magazine. Jean-Alexandre handles cases related to wrongful dismissal, workplace discrimination, breach of contract, fraud and commercial disputes. Jean-Alexandre is fully fluent in French and English and represents clients before courts and tribunals using both official languages.Before the practice of law, Jean-Alexandre was a journalist at the CBC for 3 years. Other notable achievements include employment with the Canada Research Chair on Native Peoples and Legal Diversity, the Canadian Research Chair on Metis Identity and the Urban League, a U.S. civil rights organization. Jean-Alexandre has also published articles in prominent academic journals and presented papers at international conferences in Canada and the U.S.
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