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Develop foolproof plan for taking uncertainty out of ambiguous resignations

by on
in HR Management,Human Resources

Not sure what to do when it seems as if an employee is going to quit, but she doesn’t explicitly say so? Seek clarification. If you get none, tell her you assume her silence is tantamount to a resignation.

Recent case: Patricia felt she was being singled out for criticism and might lose her job. She sent a note to her supervisor stating that she wanted to move to Toronto and seek a position with the company there. She set June as her likely move date.

The company set up a meeting to discuss the letter and request. At no time did Patricia indicate she wasn’t resigning. But when asked what her last day would be, she refused to answer. Then she received a letter stating that the company assumed her last day would be in two weeks. That’s when Patricia emailed HR, claiming there was a misunderstanding.

However, she never returned to work. Instead, she sued, alleging she had been terminated for filing an earlier internal sexual harassment complaint.

The court tossed out her case, concluding the company did nothing wrong by assuming Patricia had resigned. (Milne v. Navigant Consulting, No. 08-Civ-8964, SD NY, 2013)

Final note: Make things even easier. If you don’t have one, consider adding a no-show/no-call voluntary resignation rule stating that employees who don’t show up for a scheduled shift or call to explain their absence are presumed to have voluntarily quit after three consecutive no-show days.

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