Resignation or Termination

I wanted to get other opinions or case studies regarding this situation:

You have a contract with your employees that requires a 30-day notification for resignation. An employee resigns (gives proper notice) but you decide that they're not really needed for the full 30 days and tell them they don't need to come back, just turn in their keys, etc.  Your state is an At-Will state.

Question: Did the resignation just become a termination because you cut them lose early and are you required to pay them the 30-days pay they would have received? I have experienced one case in Virginia and one in Tennessee where the employee was entitled to the pay, but there doesn't appear to be a "standard" and since we have employees in Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, North & South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia I'm trying to get some insight to how those states operate. Thanks for any input!

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  • I have no idea about the legal aspects of the contract, but I would pay the person the resignation notice period if that is what the contract says and the person did what was expected because it's the right thing to do. Others are watching and if you don't follow the contract with the 30 resignation period, they may not provide you with 30 days' notice either. 

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  • Hi there! I agree with Bonita Martin regarding paying out the remainder of the 30 days.  This happens quite a bit in the sales environment and if they are "willing and able" to work, consider paying them versus a DOL (or other agency) claim for unpaid wages.

    Additionally, if you're using an employment contract, that you're using an employment law attorney such as Fisher Phillips, Jackson Lewis, FordHarrison or the like firm that only defends management and employers, to draft, review, and edit as necessary. A reputable employment law firm should be able to offer the appropriate guidance for that state or at least do the research and review case law pursuant to your scenario to help mitigate liability. Employment contracts can be every dangerous territory if not well written and executed properly.

    Good luck!

  • Thanks Janelle. I appreciate your feedback. The issue I'm really trying to tackle is the "resignation" versus "termination" and how other states view this. I had a case in Virginia where the employee gave notice and the company told them they didn't need to come in anymore. The employee then filed for unemployment benefits.  The company (at the time) stated it was a resignation and that the employee was not entitled to UI benefits. However, the state unemployment office decided it was no longer a resignation when the company terminated the employment earlier than the notice period given and that the employee was entitled to lost wages (for the notification period) and additional UI benefits because the employment was terminated without just cause.

    I'd like to know if anyone else has experienced this same decision from State Unemployment Boards especially in Kentucky, North & South Carolina, 
    Alabama, and Georgia.

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  • In my experience, state unemployment is very fickle, especially in FL. And even more so if the ER doesn't contest, appeal or provide ample supporting documentation. I would say that the moment the company decided to let the individual go, it would be considered a termination. 

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