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Employees often wonder whether their employer had the right to terminate their employment for no specific reason. Unless an employment contract or a valid company policy which forms part of the employment contract says otherwise, an employer is normally entitled to terminate an employee’s employment at any time without any reason – this is called termination “without cause”.

What About My Rights?

If an employee’s employment is terminated for no reason or “without cause”, then the employee must be provided with notice of the termination, or payment in lieu of notice or a combination of the two. The amount of notice required can depend on a range of factors including the terms of an employee’s employment contract, relevant legislation, and common law legal principles (See our recent blog: Is Your Termination Package Fair? How to Know If You Could Be Entitled to More).

What If My Employer Is Hiding the Real Reason for the Termination of My Employment?

There are some important exceptions to the rule that an employee’s employment can be terminated without any reason. For instance, an employer cannot terminate an employee’s employment for discriminatory reasons (whether explicit or otherwise), including, particularly in Ontario, because of the employee’s sex, colour, disability, age, sexual orientation, ancestry, place of origin, race, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, record of offenses, marital status, or family status.

Further, in general terms, an employee’s employment cannot be terminated because the employee refused to work because of unsafe working conditions, complained about working conditions or filed a Workers’ Compensation claim.

If an employee feels that their employment has been terminated for an unstated reason that is discriminatory or otherwise problematic, it is likely a good idea to consult with an employment lawyer.

It is also important to note that certain employees who work for federally regulated employers have the right to contest their termination and ask to be reinstated.

What Should I Do?

Before agreeing to a severance package and/or signing a release, it is advisable to have an employment lawyer review your documents to make sure you are being treated fairly. If you feel as though your employment was terminated for discriminatory or otherwise problematic reasons, you should also strongly consider meeting with an employment lawyer as you may be entitled to a remedy.

If you require more information or have questions relating to any of the above, please contact Toronto employment lawyers at Sultan Lawyers by telephone at 416-214-5111, by email at mlahert@sultanlawyers.com, or by filling out the form below.


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