February 13, 2014

Employers need to carefully scrutinize resignations and ensure there is an effective “quit” before refusing to take back an employee who has a change of heart. The words “I quit” aren’t necessarily binding if the employee resigns in anger, due to stress or because of a mental disability and there is no objective confirmation of the employee’s intention to quit. When can an employer rely on a resignation as conclusive? When can an employee change his or her mind? These and other critical questions regarding resignations given while suffering from stress, anger and illness will be addressed by Lancaster’s panel of experts in this audio session.

  • When is a “quit” a valid resignation? What makes a resignation valid and when can an employer “accept” an employee’s resignation? How will adjudicators determine whether an employee’s words or actions equate to resignation? What kinds of statements will indicate an unequivocal intention to resign? Under what circumstances must the employer take back an employee who resigns, but later changes his or her mind? Can the employer influence resignation by threatening to terminate an employee if s/he does not resign or by suggesting that an employee should resign or retire?
  • Anger, stress, depression and other mental illness: What are the signs and symptoms of resignations impacted by mental illness such as depression or addiction that an employer should look out for? Which stress-related disorders have been recognized in the case law as disabilities under human rights legislation? What medical evidence is necessary to prove that an employee’s stress or anger-related resignation was actually due to a disability protected under human rights legislation? Can an employee’s capacity to resign be compromised by mental illness that does not amount to a disability under human rights legislation?
  • Accepting, questioning and reversing resignations: How should an employer react when a resignation is given “in the heat of the moment,” potentially under the influence of stress, anger or other emotions? Is a “cooling off period” always necessary? Does the employer have a duty to question a disabled employee’s intention or capacity to resign as part of its duty to accommodate? Will an arbitrator always reinstate an employee whose resignation was invalid due to disability? Are damages for bad faith dismissal or human rights violations available when an employer improperly accepts an employee’s resignation?
  • Getting it right: What policies can employers put in place to ensure fair and legally compliant practices regarding employee resignations? What common accommodations, such as counselling, might be helpful for an employer to offer before an employee reaches the point of quitting? What can the union do to assist members considering resignation or who may have quit under the influence of stress, anger or mental illness?