Botch a resignation and pay the price

Nov 25, 2012

When Rashid Balogun announced that he was “out of here” and then swiftly left the Prince George offices of Deloitte & Touche after a confrontational meeting with two of his bosses, they figured that he had just resigned.  But in a legal twist that can only happen in workplace law, the court decided otherwise.
Soon after his hiring, Balogun believed he deserved a significant raise.  However, according to his manager, his performance did not yet warrant more money.  The issue soon blossomed into a conflict.  Before a performance review, Balogun was told that there were concerns with his performance and that he would not receive a raise.  This did not sit with Balogun.  According to the judge, he became so fixated on his salary that he paid little attention to concerns that were raised about his performance.
During the performance review, Balogun was asked about his future at Deloitte.  He swiftly replied that he was “out of here” before leaving the meeting and the workplace.  Believing that Balogun had just resigned, Deloitte sent him a formal letter, indicating that he had “quit.”
After a recent trial, a judge found that Balogun had not yet resigned when he left the office. Although Balogun’s statement and actions could be consistent with a resignation, Deloitte failed to consider the context.  When he left work, it was at the end of the workday, and Balogun was in a hurry to leave for the airport because he was beginning a vacation.  In these circumstances, it was not clear whether Balogun was quitting, so by sending him a letter accusing him of resigning, Deloitte effectively fired him.  Instead, Deloitte should have asked Balogun to confirm his alleged resignation in writing to eliminate any uncertainty.  However, in my view, it was hoping he would never return.  Agreeing with me, the court awarded him damages for wrongful dismissal.
Although Balogun won his case, by following these simple steps, the confusion could have been avoided: immediately protest a characterization that there has been a resignation, if you didn’t intend to resign and resist taking any steps that can be construed as voluntarily withdrawing from the workplace, until you can seek legal advice.
Author: Daniel Lublin
Publication: Metro

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