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While the terms wrongful and unjust dismissal are often used interchangeably, unjust dismissal strictly applies to employees who are employed by federally regulated employers. In this blog, we discuss what is meant by the term “unjust dismissal,” who it applies to, and key considerations when dealing with a claim of unjust dismissal in the workplace.

WHAT IS UNJUST DISMISSAL?

Unjust dismissal is a cause of action available under the Canada Labour Code to federally regulated employees who feel that they have been terminated in a manner that is unfair, unjust, or arbitrary. While the Canada Labour Code does not explicitly define the term “unjust,” common law dictates that federally regulated employees can generally only be dismissed for cause. “Cause” is where an employer has appropriate reasoning to end the employment relationship. As such, if a federally regulated employee feels as though they have been terminated without sufficient reason, they may have a claim for unjust dismissal.

WHO DOES UNJUST DISMISSAL APPLY TO?

As mentioned, the term unjust dismissal applies to federally regulated employees. More specifically, it applies to non-unionized employees with at least 12 months of continuous employment with a federally regulated employer. Employees subject to federal regulations include industries such as airlines, banks, broadcasting, telecommunications companies, truck drivers and other shipping services.

With that being said, any employee working in the above industries may commence an unjust dismissal claim under the Canada Labour Code against their employer should they be terminated without sufficient cause. If you are an employee and are unsure if you have an unjust dismissal claim, we strongly suggest contacting an employment lawyer to obtain guidance about potential remedies and legal action. 

CONSIDERATIONS WHEN FILING AN UNJUST DISMISSAL CLAIM

It is important to note that some federal employees cannot seek an unjust dismissal claim. Generally, employees will not have access to an unjust dismissal claim under the Canada Labour Code in the following circumstances:

  • The employee is governed by a collective agreement; this typically includes employees who are part of a union;
  • The reason for dismissal stemmed from economic considerations such as lack of work or discontinuance of function; or
  • The claim was made more than 90 days after the unjust dismissal.

WHAT IF YOUR UNJUST DISMISSAL CLAIM IS SUCCESSFUL?

Before filing an unjust dismissal claim, it is important to consider the remedies available if you are successful. The remedies available to an employee who has been unjustly dismissed are as follows:

Compensation 

An employee who has been unjustly dismissed may be entitled to any compensation that the employee would have been paid by the employer had they not been terminated. 

Reinstatement 

An employee may be entitled to be reinstated to their previous position with the employer. However, reinstatement is not guaranteed. An adjudicator may, for example, decline to order reinstatement where it can be found that the working relationship between the employee and the employer has become untenable. 

Any equitable remedy that may counteract any consequence of the dismissal 

This may include damages, including those provided in lieu of reinstatement, if the work environment has become untenable. 

CONTACT SULTAN LAWYERS IN TORONTO FOR ADVICE ABOUT UNJUST DISMISSAL

An unjust dismissal complaint is a unique option available for employees in a federally regulated industry. However, an employee does not have to pursue this method and may decide to file a wrongful dismissal claim and seek damages associated. 

If your employment relationship has been severed and you are seeking legal advice concerning your entitlements and your options, please get in touch with the employment lawyers at Sultan Lawyers in Toronto at 416-214-5111 or via email at khayward@sultanlawyers.com.


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