Monday, August 26, 2013

Inadequate Notice: Sued for quitting a job?

Just to make it clear, I am not a lawyer and know virtually nothing about employment law, which is what lead me into a really crappy situation over the past few years. This is not legal advice.

Let's begin!

Quit Job, Pushy Employer
After a really bad end to a "relationship" (employment), I looked up the consequences of quitting a job. I have only ever quit two jobs: this one and a casual/part-time, student position where I was already scheduled to be off for a few months. That one involved dropping a resignation letter off and hauling ass -- I was so mature. The most recent one was just stupid, and I'm going to skip the description.

Sued for quitting a job?
This latest job did not end well, which led me to start looking things up. I had always been under the impression that people could quit their jobs at any time without any legal repercussions. The two weeks notice thing, I thought, was just a courtesy and to keep bridges from burning.

Apparently, that might not be true. It depends on local laws that change from state to state, province to province, country to country, and whatever. I previously got most of my information from American sources -- I'm not American -- with things like "at will" employment and "right to work" laws. Just doing some googling, I can find opinions from Americans concerning two weeks notice. Some opinions are of the position that if employers can fire you on the spot, why should an employee feel obligated to give any advance notice? Two way street.

Giving notice: Months? Years?
Canadians may have a completely different rule set to follow. Again, I'm not a lawyer and this isn't legal advice. Depending on the local laws, it may be legally necessary to give an employer a "fair" amount of notice before quitting. "Fair" can, apparently, be anywhere from nothing to months to over a year depending on a host of factors. Talk to a lawyer to see how many.

The moral of the story is that living out the "American dream" by walking into your boss' office and telling him/her to "take this job and shove it" may not be prudent. There are multiple cases in Canada that have resulted in employers suing former employees for inadequate notice -- and other things.

This kind of makes sense because in parts of Canada, employers may be legally required to give notice and/or severance to employees. Two way street.

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