Left in the lurch employer awarded $56,000 damages

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One company has been awarded significant damages after an employee upped and left with little more than a moment’s notice – proving that workers are legally obligated to give fair warning of any impending departure.

Former regional manager Peter Walker sent his employer a letter of resignation that was effective immediately – he then went on to establish his own blasting and drilling company which was in direct competition with his previous employer, Consbec.

Consbec then sued Walker for damages suffered in connection to the insufficient notice he gave, as well as the contracts they claimed Walker had poached.

As expected, the court favoured the employee when it came to the non-compete issue but in a win for Consbec – and one that could be helpful for employers in similar circumstances – the court found that Consbec was entitled to reasonable notice of Walker’s resignation.

“An employee is obliged to provide reasonable notice of resignation even if there is no written contract,” confirmed labour lawyer David McKechnie. “Since Walker gave no notice, this was clearly unreasonable.”

Walker, by giving insufficient notice, denied Consbec the opportunity to retain a replacement employee and incurred relative costs as a result.

The court awarded damages of $56,116.11, which were expenses suffered by Consbec to send an employee from Ontario to BC to cover Walker's position and additionally, to relocate another employee and his family permanently from Ontario to BC.

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