A recent labour arbitration case, Peel District School Board v Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, District 19, 2018 CanLII 3049 (ON LA), examined the resignation of a high school teacher who lived with severe anxiety and depression, conditions which were exacerbated by his teaching responsibilities. After years of chronic absenteeism, he resigned his full-time position with the intention of working as an occasional teacher. However, he never did so, and he came to regret the financial consequences of his decision. The union sought to have the resignation set aside and to have the teacher reinstated to full-time employment, arguing that he had been “forced” to resign and that he had no true intention to do so due to his disability and a lack of appropriate accommodations by the school board.
In finding that the teacher was not entitled to reinstatement, the arbitrator found that it was clear the teacher had given great consideration to his resignation. He had resigned during summer break, was in a calm state of mind at the time, and took no steps to revoke his resignation until several months later. Additionally, the arbitrator found there was no evidence of duress, harassment or unfairness by the school board. In line with past cases, the arbitrator concluded that a resignation is not invalid simply because it is inadvisable.