Non-unionized employees in Ontario do not have an automatic right of continued employment. This means that, in almost all cases, employment can be unilaterally ended by an employer for any reason or even without providing a reason, as long as proper notice is given.
However, this does not mean that employees do not have rights. Canadian courts have made it clear that employees have the right to be treated fairly both during employment and after termination. A terminated employee can be entitled to significant payments, whether as termination payment or other damages (for example being treated badly). In certain circumstances employees may even be able to claim that they should be reinstated to their previous job.
If you have been fired, the last thing you may want to do is engage the services of an employment lawyer. You may be concerned about how much it will cost you, particularly if you are facing economic uncertainty, or you may just want to get things over with, sign all the paperwork, and end your relationship with your former employer as soon as possible. While this may be tempting, it is absolutely in your long-term best interest to consult with a lawyer as you may have grounds for a wrongful dismissal claim.
At Sultan Lawyers, our employment lawyers can help you have constructive discussions and negotiations with your former employer, will allow you to understand your options, and will help you enforce your rights. When you are our client, you can count on our persistence in achieving the best results and making sure you are protected if you have been terminated.
Following a termination there should always be a back and forth discussion and negotiation about the terms of the former employee’s departure, particularly around notice of termination (or pay in lieu of that notice) and severance. Where an employer is not willing to negotiate with you, you may be able to file a wrongful dismissal claim.
Many employees do not know how much notice (or pay in lieu of notice) they are legally entitled to in a termination and often accept a termination package or severance package that is worth less than they should be getting. You should be aware that, in most cases, you are generally eligible for a much higher amount than initially presented by your former employer.
Unless you are being terminated for cause, or you can be considered an independent contractor, you are entitled to notice of termination (or pay in lieu of that notice, i.e. termination pay). The amount of notice required will depend on the length of time you worked for your former employer.
An employer’s obligations under the Employment Standards Act represent only the minimum notice or pay that they must provide you with upon termination. The common law (i.e. history of court decisions) recognizes that departing employees are generally entitled to far more notice than this minimum legislated amount and have often awarded much longer notice.
In some cases, employers must also provide you with severance pay, in addition to termination pay. This is only applicable if you had worked for the employer for at least five years, and if your employer has an annual payroll of at least $2.5 million. Severance pay is based on the number of years and months an employee was employed.
In addition to providing you with sufficient notice of termination, pay in lieu of that notice, and severance, other factors are also important in a termination.
If your employer acted in bad faith while firing you, you may be entitled to damages (i.e. a financial award) in addition to any termination pay or severance pay owing to you.
Bad faith by an employer can include dismissing you in an unprofessional manner, misrepresenting the reason for your departure, attacking your reputation before, during or following the dismissal, or wrongfully accusing you of serious misconduct and dismissing you for cause. Bad faith damages can be significant.
In some cases, serious misconduct by an employee can be grounds to terminate them for cause. If you have been terminated for cause, your employer is not obligated to provide you with any notice of termination, termination pay, severance pay, or other compensation.
Misconduct by an employee that can result in a just cause dismissal includes:
It is very difficult for an employer to legally establish grounds for a just cause dismissal, even where they strongly believe such grounds exist.
At Sultan Lawyers, we provide exceptional legal advice to employees on all manner of workplace disputes, including best practices following a termination. We provide exceptional representation where former employees wish to pursue a wrongful dismissal claim and will steadfastly fight for your rights. Our team brings years of experience from Bay Street to our boutique practice. We take pride in our client-focused approach. Contact us online or at 416-214-5111 for a consultation.
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“Sultan Lawyers provided a great experience during a difficult time with my employer. Kristine was extremely thorough and knowledgeable when reviewing and articulating the risks and details of my severance package. I am thankful for Kristine as her expertise enabled and empowered me to confidently make a decision on my options.”James V.
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