In Gagnon & Associates Inc. v Jesso, 2016 ONSC 209, the defendants (“Jesso” and “Cameau”) had been working as salesmen for the employer (“Gagnon”) for ten years when they resigned. They had been an integral part of the defendant’s operations, and were jointly responsible for approximately 60 per cent of the defendant’s sales.

The defendants secured alternate employment with  a competitor and submitted their letters of resignation. Jesso offered to continue working for Gagnon for two additional weeks, conditional upon amounts he claimed were owing to him: $30,072.58. Gagnon declined Jesso’s offer. The defendants left Gagnon’s employ, and many of Gagnon’s clients opted to continue their business with the defendants rather than with Gagnon. Gagnon’s sales suffered significantly after the defendants’ departure.

The Court had several issues to consider. Of particular interest is the Court’s analysis as to whether the defendant Jesso resigned rather than being constructively dismissed, and if so, whether he failed to give adequate reasonable notice of his resignation. The Court found that Jesso did in fact resign. He also effectively gave no notice; while he offered to remain for two weeks conditional upon Gagnon’s agreement of monies owed to him, he indicated that he would not undertake any new work during that two week period. Furthermore, the measure of time that it would take to replace Jesso and by which reasonable notice is calculated amounted to far more than two weeks; two months would have been appropriate.

The Court’s ruling on Jesso’s failure to provide Gagnon with reasonable notice is significant because it affirms the application of reasonable notice at common law: employees, just like employers, have a common law obligation to provide reasonable notice of the termination of her employment to her employer. This case affirms that employers can recover damages for an employee’s failure to provide reasonable notice upon resignation.

Written with the assistance of Melanie Simon, articling student.

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