BC Supreme Court

Employee Liable for Insufficient Notice of Resignation

The BC Supreme Court recently ruled that an employee had to pay damages to his former employer after providing insufficient notice of his resignation.

The employer brought an action against the defendant alleging that his sudden departure had caused them economic hardship. The employee had been hired as a manager of the employer’s drilling and blasting business, serving in that role for five years. He first worked for the company’s Maritimes operation, and then was later moved to the Western Canada division. His primary responsibility was to grow the company’s business by researching project opportunities and making bids for the work. At the time of his resignation, he was the only employee working in the Company’s Western Canada division.

The employee resigned from his position by sending a letter to his general manager. He then immediately left his Kamloops office and had no further contact with the company as an employee. Caught off-guard by his departure, the employer was forced to send another employee out from their Ontario headquarters to manage the Western Canada division. The Court determined that the expenses incurred by the company in first temporarily, and then permanently, moving the replacement employee and his family from Ontario to BC following the resignation amounted to $56,116.

The Court confirmed that employees are required to provide notice when they resign so that their employer can either arrange for another employee to cover their work or hire somebody new. The employee’s failure to do so meant that the company was denied this opportunity. As a result, the Court found the employee liable to pay damages for the full amount of $56,116 that the company was forced to pay to replace him.

This decision is significant for employers as it reaffirms an employee’s obligation to provide reasonable notice before resigning from their position, particularly when they are in a management position. If the employee fails do so, their employer may be entitled to damages for losses they incur in replacing them.

Consbec Inc. v. Walker, 2014 BCSC 2070

Questions relating to the content in this article may be directed to Geoffrey J. Litherland.