After six years of employment in sales, the plaintiff’s performance and attitude began to deteriorate. When coaching failed to resolve the problems, her employer wrote a formal letter directing her to improve her performance. On receipt of the letter, the employee became angry and distraught. She responded with an e-mail to management asking to be dismissed immediately with an “appropriate generous severance”.
Her employer wrote a second letter, clarifying that the employee was not dismissed and identifying two options: she could accept the performance improvement letter or submit her resignation. After sending another e-mail declaring that these options were unacceptable, she packed her personal belongings and informed other staff members by e-mail that it was her last day of work. Management then asked her to return company property including her keys and office passes. When she later failed to attend work the employer concluded that she had resigned. The plaintiff denied that she had resigned and sued for wrongful dismissal.
The court allowed the plaintiff’s action, finding that although she had signalled an intention to resign, she had done so while she was upset. The employer was aware of her emotional state but failed to inform her that she had options other than resignation. The court also noted that the never told management that she intended to resign. As a result, when the employer demanded that she return company property, it effectively terminated her access to the workplace and dismissed her without notice.
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