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Employment Law FAQ

My employer has told me he has to change my working conditions or reduce my salary. Is that a type of wrongful dismissal?

In most circumstances, a unilateral change in the working conditions or salary amounts to a form of wrongful dismissal known as constructive dismissal. Such conduct could be grounds for you to quit your job and sue for damages.

My employer has terminated my employment and offered me a severance package that is more than the amount required by the Employment Standards Act . Should I take that amount?

The amounts set out in the Employment Standards Act are the bare minimum. In most circumstances, you are entitled to more. There are many factors to consider in determining the appropriate amount in your wrongful dismissal situation. You must consult a lawyer knowledgeable in wrongful dismissal who can advise you whether the amount offered is fair and reasonable.

I get the feeling I’m about to be fired. What should I do if I think I’m about to be fired or laid off?

First, consult with a lawyer experienced in wrongful dismissal law. If you have been incorrectly accused of misconduct, it may be advisable to dispute this accusation before you are asked to leave. If you are laid off for reasons not relating to your performance, we can advise you of your rights and help you determine the best way to manage the situation.

I was required to enter into a written contract limiting the amount my employer has to pay me if I am let go for no reason. Is this enforceable?

It may not be, especially if it was entered into after you accepted the position or after you started to work. A lawyer knowledgeable about wrongful dismissal law can help determine this after fully reviewing all of the facts of the case.

My employer terminated my employment in a humiliating and embarrassing manner. Do I have any recourse?

Such a dismissal may be wrongful and entitle you to increased damages and even a claim for aggravated or punitive damages.

Can I be fired or laid off while I’m on sick or stress leave?

Terminating your employment in this situation may be a wrongful dismissal entitling you to damages.

If I am in a wrongful dismissal action, do I have to wait for it to resolve before looking for work?

You should look for work as soon as you are able. The Courts have held that if you are dismissed, you have an obligation to look for work and accept a job if it is comparable to your last employment. However, the pay from the new job may offset in some manner the amount you’re entitled to receive in a wrongful dismissal action.

What is just cause?

Just cause means a good reason to fire you. It usually means that you did not perform your job duties or you did something seriously wrong, like stealing from your employer or unreasonably refusing to follow your supervisor’s directions.

Your employer may have just cause to fire you if you:
• use drugs or alcohol that interfere with your job performance
• ignore a strict workplace rule
• intentionally and unreasonably disobey your boss
• consistently refuse to follow a clearly defined chain of authority in a tightly knit business
• are disloyal to your employer or put yourself in a conflict of interest, for example, you set up a business to compete directly with your employer
• ignore a clear workplace policy, procedure or rule
• are dishonest about something important
• are incompetent; for example, if you got the job only because you could repair computers and it turns out you can’t

There may be other cases of just cause and things aren’t always as clear cut as these examples.

An employer does not have just cause to fire you simply because he or she is dissatisfied with your job performance. An employer may have to warn you before firing you. An employer may even have to offer you reasonable job training.

Some employers may try to avoid giving you notice or severance pay by saying there is just cause to fire you, even if there isn’t. If you are fired and the employer says there is just cause, look very carefully at the employer’s reasons for firing you to see if there really is just cause. A personality conflict between you and your superior may not be just cause – it depends on the facts of the case.

What are the employee’s obligations after dismissal?

There is generally an obligation to mitigate the damages. In other words the employee must actively seek out another job and be prepared to demonstrate your reasonable efforts to obtain alternate employment. A terminated employee is entitled to search locally. He is not expected to uproot his family and move because a job may be available in that region. Further a terminated employee is entitled to search for employment in his or her own or in a related field. While some flexibility of expectation may be appropriate, the terminated employee in a skilled or highly qualified area is not required to accept a position at minimum wage preparing fast food merely to mitigate his damages.

An employee must keep a proper log and evidence with respect to his efforts including the date of any attendances at a company; his contact person at the company and any follow up done. An employee should further consider seeking out professional advice to assist with a job search.

We also take cases in other regions so please call us if your area is not listed.

For a consultation with our employment lawyer please call 905-847-2826.

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We also take cases in other regions so please call us if your area is not listed.