Movileanu v. Valcom Manufacturing Group Inc. – Ontario Superior Court of Justice – November 15, 2007
An employee can retract their resignation of employment as long as the employer has not suffered any expense or taken any actions to its detriment due to the employee resigning.
The November 15, 2007 decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Movileanu v. Valcom Manufacturing Group Inc.  O.J. No. 4414 (“Movileanu”) illustrates that an employer may not automatically uphold an employee’s resignation. If the employee retracts their resignation prior to the employer suffering any expense or taking any actions to its detriment due to the resignation, then the employer should reinstate the employee. By not doing so, the employer may be found to have wrongfully dismissed the employee despite the employee originally resigning.
In Movileanu, the employee was offered and accepted a promotion to the position of Production Manager. Once he assumed this position, the employer asked him to inform three co-workers that they were being laid off and to notify a fourth of a job reassignment. After completing these tasks, the employee approached his employer and verbally stated that he was not able to continue to fulfill this position and that they should find a replacement. Additionally, the employee requested a job similar to the one he held previous to the position of Production Manager. The employer informed the employee that there was no other job available, yet the employee repeated that he was not able to do the managerial position.
The employer met with one of the employee’s co-workers who informed him that the employee had mentioned that he was looking for new employment. As a result of this, the employer provided the employee with a letter of resignation to sign. The employee did not sign the letter and again asked the employer to find him a new position. In response, the employer repeated that there were no other positions available. As the employee was leaving work that day, he was handed another letter stating that the employer deemed the employee to have resigned from his employment due to the comments he had made.
The next day, the employee tried to enter the workplace, but his pass had been cancelled. The employee met with his employer and informed him that he had not resigned and that he would fulfill the managerial role. The employer responded by saying that he had resigned. The employee commenced a claim of wrongful dismissal.
The Trial Judge concluded that the employee had resigned from his position, but had retracted it. In reaching this decision, the Trial Judge stated, “I find that [the employee] resigned from the company because of his actions and statements…The company put in a temporary supervisor in the place of [the employee]. At least until the 11th of January the company had not incurred any expense because of the actions of [the employee]. The company had not taken any action to its detriment at that time. I find that [the employee] had resiled from his previous position and would take on the job of supervisor. [The employer] at that time had not incurred any expenses caused by [the employee]…I find that [the employer] terminated the employment of [the employee] without cause.” The Trial Judge concluded that the employee should receive an award of twelve months notice due to the wrongful dismissal.
The decision in Movileanu highlights the flexibility that exists with respect to resignations. So long as the employer has not incurred any expenses or taken any actions to its detriment due to the employee resigning from their position, the employee is able to retract their resignation and be reinstated. If the employer does not permit the employee to do so under such circumstances, then the employer runs the risk of being found to have wrongfully dismissed the employee even though it was the employee who originally severed the employment relationship.
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