Oral Resignation Count

An Indiana statue provides that when a resignation is tendered in writing it may not be withdrawn without the consent of the person or authority having power to fill the vacancy. Members should be advised that this does NOT mean that an oral resignation is not effective or that it can be withdrawn.


In 1947, policemen and firemen in Brazil, Indiana, asked the City Council to increase their salaries. (A committee was formed to represent them; it employed counsel, and appeared before the City Council.) The City Council declined to raise salaries as much as was desired by the public safety officers. The police and firefighters announced through their committee and their attorney that they would not accept the small raise which

was granted, that they were resigning and walking off the job and quitting seven days hence. The mayor responded that “If that is the way you want it, that is theway it will be.”


The policemen and firemen reconsidered the matter and decided to accept the salaries which had been offered to them and remain on the job. The mayor told them there was no work for them, to gather up their belonging, and to surrender their city property and check out.


Although policemen and firemen in Indiana have tenure, the Indiana Supreme Court held that their oral resignations were effective.


The language used by the Supreme Court:


When city firemen and policemen elect to terminate their contracts, sometimes called resigning, and so advise the responsible head of the city government, their contracts of employment are at an end. They could not be compelled to work and their rights under the tenure act could be

waived. They could voluntarily quit their employment at any time for any reason satisfactory to them. After doing so they could not claim any benefits under the tenure act. The tenure act was not passed for the benefit of those who quit and resigned their jobs, but for those who are wrongfully dismissed.”


The court made reference to the statute which describes resignations in writing, and said that that statute does not obviate the ability to resign orally. Members should be advised that oral resignations are very effective and cannot be withdrawn without consent of the authority to which they were submitted.