A recent decision of British Columbia's Supreme Court in
Balogun v. Deloitte & Touche, LLP,2011 BCSC 1314 (CanLII) provides a salutary
reminder for employers that a hastily uttered "I quit"
(or similar), is generally not sufficient to support the
resignation of an employee. The decision is consistent with
the principle that an employee's conduct must objectively
reflect an intention to resign, or there must be conduct evidencing
this intention, for the resignation to be effective. A
written resignation, given by the employee after having had time to
consider his or her decision, likely satisfies this test.
In this case, the employee Mr. Balogun had on several occasions
in his short career requested a pay increase from his employer,
accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, LLP. The Company had
responded that Mr. Balogun's performance did not warrant a pay
At a meeting involving Mr. Balogun, his departmental manager and
the office managing partner, Mr. Balogun's performance was
discussed. According to the Company, Mr. Balogun commented
that no one in the office was capable of assessing his
performance. When asked what this meant for his future at the
Company, he replied "I'm out of here". Mr.
Balogun then proceeded to leave the office for a previously
scheduled vacation. When Mr. Balogun returned from vacation,
he found a Record of Employment attached to his apartment door,
indicating that he had quit his employment.
Mr. Balogun sued the company for wrongful dismissal. The
company's defence was that Mr. Balogun had quit when he said
"I'm out of here" in response to a question about his
future at the Company. Mr. Balogun denied uttering these
words; however, it was his evidence that if he had made that
statement, it would have been with reference to his leaving for
The British Columbia Supreme Court confirmed that resignation
requires "clear and unequivocal" intent. In the
case at bar, the Court found that Mr. Balogun's statement was
ambiguous and not a clear statement of intention to resign.
The Court's conclusion was influenced by the fact that
the Company had not requested a letter of resignation from Mr.
Balogun, something it would ordinarily have done. Therefore,
when Deloitte & Touche processed Mr. Balogun's Record of
Employment, it had effectively terminated his employment.
The lesson to be taken from this case: employers cannot take
advantage of an employee's heated words or a rash decision;
resignations should be confirmed by the employee, in writing if
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Back in July 2012, we covered "PVYW v Comcare" (No 2),  FCA 395, which concerned an employee in the HR department of an Australian government agency who was injured on a work-related trip to a country town in New South Wales.
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