B.C.’s small claims tribunal has weighed in on two cases where employers attempted to sue workers who allegedly quit without providing the notice required by their contracts.
Decisions in both cases were posted online Monday – and while the circumstances were different, the tribunal dismissed the employers’ claims in both cases for the same reason.
Quitting without giving the required notice, the decisions say, can legally constitute a “breach of contract,” making an employer eligible to sue for damages.
But – and this proved to be the deciding factor in each case – there must be evidence that the worker’s departure resulted in the claimed damages.
In the first case, John Fleming Insurance Agency was asking the tribunal to compensate the company $3,000 after Davik Mehta, a broker, quit with no notice in 2022.
Tribunal member Christopher C. Rivers said, in his decision, that the issue of whether Mehta had breached the contract was ultimately irrelevant because the company had failed to prove its case.
“Damages for breach of contract are generally meant to put the innocent party in the same position as if the contract had been performed as agreed,” the decision explains.
The company provided “no evidence or submissions” about how it arrived at the $3,000 figure – which Rivers said could have included things like “records of the revenue” the employee brought in or evidence that “evidence from clients who chose not to do business with (the company) due to Mr. Mehta’s sudden departure.”
In the second case, a company called 548981 B.C. Ltd. was claiming $2,400 in damages as compensation after Wendy Reyes quit her job with two weeks’ notice instead of the required three.
The company said the figure was equivalent to three weeks of Reyes’ salary but – again – the tribunal found that the amount being claimed was not supported and so no damages could be awarded.
“The employer provided no evidence of any losses they suffered because the employee failed to give three weeks’ notice,” tribunal member Sarah Orr’s decision said.
Further, in this case, the tribunal found there was evidence that the company had accepted Reyes’ resignation, which meant it had “accepted the employee’s breach of contract.”