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Being let go from a job is never easy, but when the termination feels unjustified or wrongful, it can be emotionally challenging and legally complicated. An unjust dismissal not only disrupts your career path but can also leave you feeling betrayed, disrespected, and uncertain about your rights and options moving forward. 

This blog discusses unjust dismissals, providing insights into what constitutes unfair termination, your potential legal recourses, and strategies for protecting your interests during this difficult period.

What is a Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination in Ontario occurs when an employer dismisses an employee in a manner that violates the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”), breaches the terms of their employment contract, or contravenes the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Examples of Wrongful Termination

Several circumstances can be considered wrongful termination in Ontario, including:

  • Lack of Reasonable Notice: Employers must provide employees with reasonable notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice, as determined by the ESA and common law. Failure to provide sufficient notice or compensation may amount to wrongful termination.
  • Violation of the Employment Standards Act: Dismissing an employee for taking a legally entitled leave, such as maternity leave or sick leave, is a violation of the ESA and is considered wrongful termination.
  • Breach of Contract: If an employer dismisses an employee in a manner that breaches the terms of the employment contract (e.g., terminating without following the agreed-upon process), it can be grounds for wrongful termination.
  • Constructive Dismissal: This occurs when an employer makes significant changes to the terms of employment without the employee’s consent, effectively forcing the employee to resign. This can be treated as a wrongful termination.
  • Discrimination or Retaliation: Terminating an employee on protected grounds such as race, gender, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code is wrongful. It is also wrongful to terminate an employee in retaliation for exercising their legal rights, such as filing a complaint about workplace harassment.
  • Bad Faith or Malicious Intent: Termination carried out in bad faith or with malicious intent, such as fabricating reasons for dismissal to harm the employee’s reputation, can also be considered wrongful.

What Can I do If I was Wrongfully Terminated?

If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated in Ontario, the first step is to reach out to an experienced wrongful termination lawyer. They can help you understand your rights under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), as outlined in your employment contract, and guide you through the available legal remedies.

It’s also recommended that you gather relevant documentation, including your employment contract(s), relevant communications or correspondence, a timeline or summary of events, termination letter(s), and any other relevant documentation.

Remedy Options for Wrongful Terminated

Depending on the specifics of your situation, an employment lawyer may explore several potential courses of action, including:

Wrongful Dismissal Damages

If an employer fails to provide reasonable notice of termination as required by the employment contract, common law, or employment standards legislation, an employee can sue for wrongful dismissal damages. This includes:

    • Pay in lieu of reasonable notice (severance)
    • Lost benefits during the notice period
    • Lost pension contributions/equity compensation 

Human Rights Damages

If the termination was based on discriminatory grounds like race, gender, disability etc., in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code, an employee can file a human rights complaint. Potential remedies include:

    • Compensation for lost income
    • Damages for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect
    • Reinstatement (in rare cases) 

Extraordinary Damages

In egregious cases where the employer’s conduct during termination was particularly reprehensible or in bad faith, courts can award extraordinary damages for:

    • Mental distress/emotional pain and suffering
    • Loss of reputation/career opportunities
    • Punitive damages 

Wrongful Dismissal Complaint

If an employee with at least 2 years of service is terminated without good and sufficient cause, a complaint can be filed with the Ministry of Labour seeking reinstatement and/or compensation. 

The key is to examine all facts regarding how the termination was carried out and the employer’s motives to determine which legal avenues and remedies may apply.

Taking Action

Every wrongful termination case is unique and may require a tailored approach. Consulting a lawyer will help you understand your rights and recommend the best course of action to seek fair compensation. They will outline the available options for compensation following wrongful termination in Ontario and assist you in navigating the process.

If you have been unfairly let go, we encourage you to contact the employment experts at Sultan Lawyers. Contact us by filling out an online form or by telephone at 416-214-5111 today.

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